Most of the time, the biggest obstacle to a person being a writing and performing musician is not lack of access to resources, be it a venue, a recording studio or bandmates to depend on. It’s often you getting in the way of your own self; doubting your ability to write a song or play a show, losing motivation after one bad gig, being way too self-critical, trying to be one thing when you really want to be another.
Tall Horse, the indie-folk project of Portland singer-songwriter Nick Poulin with bandmates Dustin Saucier, Dominic Grosso and Devin Ivy, was a long time coming. Poulin didn’t think he was good enough, or sounded enough like other singers, or some combination thereof. Despite growing up in Casco in a house where music was always on the stereo, he never really tried his hand at performing his own music. Until three years ago, that is.
He speaks from experience. Poulin spent the better part of a decade working in film and TV, studying film at Emerson College in Boston and living in Los Angeles for a few years, before moving back to Portland and working as an editor at Channel 13. He still works in film and photography today, freelancing as a photographer for area businesses.
It wasn’t until Poulin was around 27 that he began to explore his voice, write songs and focus on his guitar playing, too. He found it was writers, not musicians, that were inspiring him.
“Most of my influences are actually authors, not musicians, but I have to say music-wise Okay, and any project by Will Oldham have been moderate influences,” said Poulin. “Charles Bukowski, Sam Pink, Knut Hamson, Celine, others have heavily influenced my lyrics. While I don’t tend to write a lot of words, I hope for the lyrics to be one of the most important elements of Tall Horse songs.”
Poulin plans to enter the studio next month to begin recording a proper Tall Horse EP, which he expects to be released this summer. The band is next set to play with Ginlab and Contrapposto on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Empire in Portland. To listen to some of Tall Horse’s songs, visit either their Soundcloud page or Bandcamp page.