Palomino Steady Rocking is a collection of four songs loosely and/or completely written about horses that guitarist/songwriter Karen Haglof has known or imagined… and loved; a little horse sampler, if you will. The EP was produced by Steve Almaas. It was recorded at Cowboy Technical Services in Greenpoint Brooklyn in 2017, engineered by Mario Viele. It was mixed at the Fidelitorium in Kernersville, NC, by Mitch Easter. The master was done by Scott Craggs at Old Colony Mastering in Boston, MA. It was released September 7, and will be followed by the full-length album Tobiano later in the year.
Like its predecessors, Palomino Steady Rocking revolves around Haglof’s hard-hitting yet spry, stripped-down blues-inflected playing and writing, ably supported by longtime musical ally Steve Almaas on bass and CP Roth on drums. The album is a fully–realized showcase for her masterful fret work, spirited singing, and impossibly catchy riffing, and finds her continuing her development as a complete creative artist in her own right – after years performing primarily as a supporting musician.
Palomino Steady Rocking is the third release for the singer/songwriter/guitarist after many years away from the recording studio, during which Haglof earned her medical degree and joined the hematology/ oncology department of New York University Hospital where she still serves. Prior to her career in medicine, Karen had been an active participant in the much-vaunted Minneapolis indie rock scene that gave the world the Replacements, Soul Asylum and Bob Mould’s Husker Du among many others. Eventually, she left the Midwest for Manhattan and joined renowned avant-garde composer Rhys Chatham’s Ensemble, one of the city’s seminal guitar army/orchestras, leaving to join the Band of Susans with other veterans of Chatham’s crew. After serving a stint a kitchen staff at the early years of East Village institution the Great Jones Café (and creating its legendary brunch menu), she entered medical school and didn’t seriously pick up a guitar for decades.
The impetus for making music again came from two directions. The first was the untimely passing of Karen’s friend and mentor Jeff Hill, an old friend in Minneapolis who Karen calls “my first real guitar instructor and inspiration.” Later that same year, Karen caught the music documentary It Might Get Loud at an East Village theater. “The old Jimmy Page and The Edge footage brought back all the early excitement about playing. I hadn’t kept up with rock or guitar music at all, and seeing Jack White was a bit of a revelation. I felt like I wanted to play again.”
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of sharing Haglof’s video for “Slow Stampede,” which was directed by Bobby Fisher. This is what she had to say about it:
“The song ‘Slow Stampede’ off the EP Palomino Steady Rocking came about after travel to Arizona to ride. One morning I shot 10 seconds of video of the horses coming in for the day—it had rained overnight, the ground was muddy despite being in the desert, and the herd of horse hooves on the sloppy trail sounded great. When I got back to New York, Mario Viele and I looped the soundtrack for a planned acoustic number. A few months later the chord progression arose while mixing other songs down in North Carolina. There was some thought that this might be an instrumental, but I was still missing Bucky, a horse who died unexpectedly; I always grapple with loss in my alternate reality of oncology, and these words came. The lyrics suggest trying to be understanding and accepting while feeling completely defiant and realizing control is illusion. But still, trying to go forward, best as you can.
“The video footage was partly shot from horseback on the trails and at the barn of Lost Creek Ranch in Moose, WY, and also uses horse footage shot at the Rancho De Los Caballeros Ranch in Wickenburg, AZ, for the stampede. Mainly however it is Bobby Fisher video of me in my apartment, on a merry-go-round horse I have had for a couple decades; the merry-go-round horse is pretty appropriate to the vibe of the song. The mood is meant to be dark but a little playful, bluesy and a little introspective.”