Trying to describe Scottish musician Horse McDonald in words is not the easiest thing to do.If you’ve met her, or seen her live, you’ll understand.

★★★★★

As a performer, Horse is a tour de force. Called “One of the finest singers in Britain” by influential Q Magazine, Horse has been described as an artist “who wouldn’t have been out of place on the Stax or Motown labels in their heyday.”

And tonight at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York is no different. A guest performer of her fellow Scot, Angela McCluskey,when she walks on stage all eyes turn as the lights focus on her and the audience sits up to take notice. Totally at ease with the surroundings, dark wood and great acoustics,she takes us on a musical journey, ably joined by Paul Cantelon on piano and Lili Haydn on violin.

Holding the attention of a New York crowd is a feat in itself, and she managed to pull it off to the sell out show with her trademark songs, relentless energy and a voice that gets better with age.Like her strikingly unusual moniker, Horse’s voice is completely original; it’s raw and powerful, emotive and honest,

The passion Horse sings with stems from legendary performers whom she credits as inspiration,from Joan Armatrading to Jose Carreras.Her intensity could also be credited to the material itself, which is largely autobiographical. “Careful was originally a love song but it is also the song that I sang to my mum as she was dying, so for me it has taken on a whole new meaning.”

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Although the vibe is open and unpretentious, the clientele isn’t there to dance or mingle, making it clear that Rockwood is all about the music and tonight the music was all about a woman called Horse.

 

by Elsie Maud

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