I’m always hesitant before pressing play on an acoustic record. So often, the problem with singer/songwriter stuff is that no one is there to tell them they’re making bad ideas. But real recognizes real, and Paul Moody’s latest release The Ghost Album is the real deal.
On the surface it seems deceptively simple; the songs barely rise before they fall, and most of them don’t even make it past the two-minute mark. But to dismiss them as unfinished works on an unfocused album would be to miss out on the larger and much more beautiful picture. The Ghost Album plays like the soundtrack to a movie you haven’t seen in years, but one that will always be a favourite of yours nonetheless. As may be the obvious from the title, ghosts are a prominent theme here and many of these song titles share the word, but in this case, we’re not talking about frightening apparitions from beyond the grave; we’re talking about wisps of nostalgia for summers long gone and the ever present-fear of a future that’s far from perfect.
Great. This record has turned me into a 17-year-old liberal arts student.
Don’t get me wrong, the record isn’t perfect. At 18-tracks, even short ones like these, there are bound to be cuts towards the middle that sound annoyingly repetitive and basic. But the highlights far outweigh the low points.
The childlike opening notes of “Isabella” are an instant hook, and Moody needs very few words to successfully paint a picture of the titular young lady who advertises her services in hotels that charge by the hour. “California Ghosts” is a spot-on slab of dreamy pop-ska that would make Weezer proud, and “Your Motherfucking Song” (is it even okay to cuss over finger-plucked acoustic guitar?) is the most tasteful breakup jingle since Biebs’ “Love Yourself.” Then there are “Lonesome Ghost at the Water’s Edge” and “The Girl and the Ghost,” two compositions so lush and beautiful you’ll swear they weren’t written and performed by a guy wearing a chicken’s head mask in all of his promotional material. You won’t regret giving this record a spin.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy