At 15, Dead Horses frontwoman Sarah Vos’s world turned upside down. Raised in a strict, fundamentalist home, Vos lost everything when she and her family were expelled from the rural Wisconsin church where her father had long served as pastor. What happened next is the story of Dead Horses’ stunning new album, My Mother the Moon, a record of trauma and triumph, despair and hope, pain and resilience.
Blending elements of traditional roots with contemporary indie folk, the album is both familiar and unexpected. It is unflinchingly honest in its portrayal of modern American life yet optimistic in its unshakable faith in brighter days to come. Earthy and organic, Vos’s songs often reveal themselves to be exercises in empathy and outreach; she writes not only to find meaning in the struggles she has endured, but also to embrace kindred souls on their own journeys of self-discovery. As much as the album is a reckoning with the past and everything she witnessed growing up (mental illness, poverty, addiction, and violence), it’s also an effort to shape the future, to build a community based around love, art, and acceptance to replace the one she was robbed of as a child.
My Mother the Moon is the third album from Dead Horses. It follows their acclaimed 2016 release, Cartoon Moon. That record prompted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to declare Dead Horses a “band to watch” and earned them honors for best album, best Americana/bluegrass artist, and best female vocalist at the 2017 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards. With a fleshed-out touring lineup, the group has logged countless miles, sharing bills with Trampled by Turtles, Mandolin Orange, and Elephant Revival, in addition to making appearances at festivals such as Bristol Rhythm and Roots and WinterWonderGrass.
See the band’s video for “Long Way Down”: