Review: Ember Knight’s ‘The Disappointment Cowboy’ Does Anything But Disappoint

Ember Knight - Disappointment Cowboy Album Art
Ember Knight’s ‘The Disappointment Cowboy’ is somewhere between a stand-up special and a 40-minute orchestral piece, in all the right ways.

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Somewhere in the in-between lies Ember Knight’s debut album, The Disappointment Cowboy. At the intersection of camp and heartbreak, in between comedy and emotional vulnerability, nestled between quirkiness and poignancy. The Disappointment Cowboy blends sophisticated musical composition with lyrical witticism into a record that will make you laugh out loud and bawl your eyes out in the span of 40 minutes.

Using every possible instrument–kazoos, xylophones, pianos, upright basses, and even a cookie sheet– Knight tops it all off with a haunting soprano that will resonate in your ears well after the record has finished playing. The way that Knight weaves monologues and comedy sketches into delicate melodies takes the Disappointment Cowboy from a traditional record, to a musical experience that takes listeners on a journey through the mind of the artist.

Listen: Disappointment Cowboy – Ember Knight

The album kicks off with the track “TELEVISION” an uncanny valley TV show intro style tune

“I wanna watch a TV show by you / I wanna watch your television”

Knight intertwines eerily cheery harmonies with carefully crafted sound effects, producing the feeling that the listener is watching a television show unfold in front of them.

What follows in the rest of the record is a bit of roller coaster. Spooky melodies drift over comedy sketches and monologues; emotional turmoil is snuggled under a running bit about an obsession with the movie Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) and a disparaged redbox employee. In a perfect blend of comedy and musicality, Ember Knight proves that the two don’t have to be separate entities and provides the musical and comedic chops to back it up.

And he calls me back in like a dog at night
Doesn’t ask where I’ve been
Doesn’t tell me the time
Just reels me back in like a fish on the line
And I’ll be your king till you’ll have me no more
I’ll howl at your door: “are you sure?
Ember Knight © Ember Knight

Ember Knight © Ember Knight

Vulnerable moments are contrasted with interludes about frogs in the stand out track “Old Yeller”. We are graced with a brief moment where Knight beckons us to peer beyond walls built on deflective humor to reveal insecurities and anxieties coupled with heartbreak in a way that is all too familiar to listeners with similar coping mechanisms.

Shortly after, Knight graces us with a tune about her fingers, a great way to break any residing tension and a friendly reminder not to take anything too seriously.

Ember Knight - Disappointment Cowboy Album Art

Ember Knight – Disappointment Cowboy

Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why
Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why
Sit on the ground
Reach for the sky
Got a lot of fingers
But I don’t know why

These lines are repeated for the duration of the song, creating an utterly ridiculous and entertaining tune that will probably be stuck in your head for all of eternity.

It is exactly the kind of album I adore– one that tugs at every thread of human emotion, exposing the raw nerves of humanity. Something that is so unique to the person who made it that you know there has never been and will never be anything quite like it. It is records like these that remind us to be authentically ourselves. Even at your weirdest and most ridiculous, we all have the potential to make something unapologetically unique and beautiful.

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Ember Knight - Disappointment Cowboy Album Art

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📸 © Ember Knight

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Carolyn is a 21 year old non binary writer who is originally from upstate New York. They currently live in Los Angeles California. They love female/trans led punk rock bands, comedy, giving unsolicited music suggestions, and having in depth conversations about witch craft and astrology. They're an Aries by the way.