The second outing from the female half of Australian sibling folk-pop duo Angus & Julia Stone is steeped in the sunset hue of 1970s California pop. Produced by Thomas Bartlett (The National) and Patrick Dillett (Mary J. Blige), By the Horns' greatest strength is also its biggest distraction. Stone's fragile voice is an acquired taste that falls somewhere between the primal affectations of Björk, the airy, pixie croon of Julee Cruise, and the throaty desperation of Stevie Nicks, but there's a soulfulness to it that lends a bit of phantom power to driving stand-out cuts like "It's All Okay," "With the Light," and "Justine".
When the prevailing guitar jingle of "Mr. Jones" cascaded over radio in the early '90s, it was a sure sign that the Counting Crows were a musical force to be reckoned with. Their debut album, August and Everything After, burst at the seams with both dominant pop harmonies and rich, hearty ballads, all thanks to lead singer Adam Duritz. The lone guitar work of "Mr. Jones" coupled with the sweet, in-front pull of Duritz's voice kicked off the album in full force. The starkly beautiful and lonely sounding "Round Here" captured the band's honest yet subtle talent for singing ballads, while "Omaha" is lyrically reminiscent of a Springsteen tune.