“The Bonny Light Horseman thing was an opportunity to collaborate with two people that I am a huge fan of, that’s what it’s all about…Sometimes you do these things, and you figure out in two hours that it doesn’t work. And this was the other way around, we figured out in two hours that it was going to be really, really cool.”
Those were the words of Eric D. Johnson (Fruitbats) from an interview we had last year when he was asked about the Bonny Light Horseman band. Anaïs Mitchell, Eric, and Josh Kaufman have today announced their sophomore album Rolling Golden Holy out on October 7th, 2022, via 37d03d Records. Pre-Order now via
Again produced by Josh Kaufman, this news will no doubt fizz through the grapevine at warp speed, riding on the success of their highly acclaimed 2020 self-titled debut that racked up two GRAMMY nominations (Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance). The album featured in plenty of end of year lists, including our own Top 100 Folk Albums of 2020.
While Rolling Golden Holy marks their return, this isn’t without some developments – unlike their debut, which featured traditional folk songs, the eleven songs here are all originals, written and realized by the trio as a whole. They are described as following the paths of the traditional tunes the band cherishes to new musical and lyrical frontiers and give the sounds and situations of history the gravity and shape of now.
The trio asks—and, with every tune here, answers—an essential question on Rolling Golden Holy: Where does traditional folk music end and modern folk music begin, if there even is such a binary? These songs continually suggest and embody an unspoken continuum.
The circumstances of Bonny Light Horseman’s debut prompted a litany of guests; the circumstances of Rolling Golden Holy, however, prompted a deepening of the trio’s collaboration with drummer JT Bates and bassist/saxophonist Mike Lewis, the only other players here. These constraints motivate the quintet.
That motivation can be heard on their lead single, “California”, which finds them shifting to the sunshine of the West Coast. The song is a timely and incorruptible classic about moving on in search of something else, if not something more.
“This one started off as a little crooked minor-key old timey tune. Then the three of us took it through the ringer together and it became what you’re hearing now. We sat in a room in the woods of New York and clawed and pawed at it until it turned into a little bittersweet shuffler,” explains Eric D. Johnson of “California.” “Our first record was largely centered on the old world, whether it was some sort of mythical sweeping landscape on some British Isle, or maybe the old cities of the American East. This is probably our first West Coast song. It’s a sad one, a story about pulling up roots, new beginnings, goodbyes, early morning long drives, riding into the sunrise instead of the sunset. They usually don’t end movies riding into the sunrise but this movie has that scene.”
Being in a band is obviously not a novel enterprise, but Bonny Light Horseman has always thrived in rendering fresh wisdom and insight from old models, whether that’s scraps of ancient songs or the spark of ever-entwined voices. This is a network of mutualism, created for sharing, learning, risking, singing, and playing as one, not as mere sums of fractions. Rolling Golden Holy, then, is Bonny Light Horseman’s testament to interdependence, partnership, and trust at a moment when we crave such connections so much. Mitchell, Kaufman, and Johnson fully appreciate what they have found in one another through Bonny Light Horseman; on Rolling Golden Holy, we get to live inside that magic, too.
Bonny Light Horseman are currently on tour supporting Bon Iver and have a handful of standalone shows this month as well, have announced an initial run of fall headline tour dates. They will also perform next month at the Newport Folk Festival on July 23rd. More details here:
Rolling Golden Holy is now available for pre-order HERE.
Rolling Golden Holy Tracklist:
2. Comrade Sweetheart
4. Summer Dream
5. Gone By Fall
7. Someone To Weep For Me
8. Fleur De Lis
9. Once On Another Day
10. Fair Annie
11. Cold Rain and Snow