Billy “the Kid” Pettinger has been a one-woman-show for most of her solo performing career – last year’s ‘Perspective‘ saw her take on the roles of writer, performer AND producer. But for her fifth album, ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades‘, she has employed the help of none other than Frank Turner. The folk is strong in this one.
‘Phone Bills‘ gets things started, albeit after a shaky and somewhat muddled opening. But for the main body of the song, the ropes are pulled tighter and it all comes together into a tremendous, breezy track. Billy the Kid has a very relaxed style about her vocals which complements the energetic instrumentation perfectly and that’s very much the key to what makes this album such an easy listener.
‘Riverbank‘ and ‘The Satellite + 1‘ follow in much the same fashion and the differences between tracks are almost too subtle, making it feel like one long track, but ‘Science‘ shows up in the nick of time to give this album it’s first big moment. The instruments build, the strength intensifies and then… Oka, so it teases us with a big moment. For as lovely a voice as Billy has (and it is very lovely) you can’t help but to want a little more from it all.
That said, ‘The Quarry‘ is an absolute pleasure to listen to, with the gentle guitar lines working to make the vocals sound stronger here. This is where the raw emotion within her music really begins to shine through and as low-key as this song may be, it is easily identifiable as one of Billy the Kid’s best works. In fact, it’s the first half of a pair of stand out tracks on ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’, as ‘This Sure As Hell Ain’t My Life‘ ushers in a stellar performance from Frank Turner. Their voices meld together to create the illusion of a duo who have been singing together like this for years, with each and every line of the song masterfully crafted to highlight their best vocal attributes.
The rest of the album plays on to much the same effect, with more highlights coming from the likes of ‘Chelsea Rose‘ and ‘Thoroughfare‘, two more beautiful concoctions that will really have a lasting impact. Overall, a fine effort here from the little lady from Vancouver. One canot help but feel that certain moments could have been bigger and that there’s a little filler here and there, but for the most part, ‘Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’ is the perfect album for a lazy Sunday, and one that will make you want those Sundays to keep rolling on.