' new single requires a second listen before the lyrics make their full, somewhat disquieting impact. Loosely named after lead singer Johnny Pierce's hometown of Horseheads, NY, "Head of the Horse" uses a gently swinging melody and repetitive backup vocals to create a surface appearance of tranquility. The lyrics, which talk about being overpowered by unpleasant memories, contradict this mood and, like the song's name, have their roots in Pierce's past.
Both of Pierce's parents were Pentecostal preachers whose vehement anti-gay sentiments aligned with their religion. Growing up in this household was a source of distress and internal conflict for Pierce, who identifies as gay. The repetition of the song's chorus, "Here I go again/ All these memories get the best of me"
is a testament to the lasting influence of this strained childhood, even after the distance provided by many years and an escape from suburban life for New York City.
The song's most powerful moment is when Pierce calls out society's double standards for attraction, marriage, and love saying, "Your sister got married 14 times / but if you fall in love son, that's a crime."
Despite how intensely personal this statement -- and the rest of the song's lyrics -- are for Pierce, "Head of the Horse" is framed as a string of reminiscences that are shockingly free from bitterness, and, instead, indicate Pierce's desire to move beyond the negative associations of the past.