This month, Santa Cruz-based the Painted Horses released their second, self-titled album and it is a collection of folk rock songs we are delighted to have found. Following the release of their debut album Ponderosa Pines, The Painted Horses has pushed the band into a new level of musical mastery with songs that are a little more upbeat but sticking to their roots. Like a more country version of M. Ward and Elvis Perkins with a touch of the Wallflowers (especially opening track “Spokane”) Horses at times feels more folk, at times more country and all the times: pretty good.

Aside from the composition of the songs themselves, the album is well-produced, with a richness that almost feels familiar. It’s no surprise — Horses was recorded and produced by Marc Daniel Nelson and Ken Caillat who produced, amongst many others, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. As a whole Horses has that quality that’s rare to find: an album you just enjoy listening to the whole way through, and you could let it repeat.

The video for “All the Pines in the West” arrived in the style of a classic western and is a bit of cinematic success. What lovely cinematography (directed by Everett Fitch of “Big American Story”).

Another stand out tune is “Daisy,” which starts off “Hey Daisy/take the long way home/I know you ain’t got no place to go.” A gentler track than the rest, “Daisy” uses Dorota Szuta’s vocals to soften the track with her harmonies and help give it a quiet, romantic feel.

We’ll leave you with a little blast from their first album’s past with track “Much Too Long.” Stay tuned for more from The Painted Horses and a tour line up coming soon.

Painted Horses is Denyz Kozakis on guitar, Jon Payne on bass. Pop into their website to snag a freshly pressed vinyl or pick one up at their next show.