Tue 6 Mar 2012
Scraping On Wire
For the past week I’ve had a song on my playlist that every time it’s come on has made my ears prick up. I originally thought it was one of several WOMEN tracks I added to my playlist upon hearing the sad news that the band’s guitarist Christopher Reimer had died in his sleep on February 21. But then it started reminding me a lot of Sic Alps, and Mike Donovan’s equivocal ramblings. When I finally got around to checking it out I discovered it was the work of a young Californian song writer named Ryan Thomas Schmale, going by the name That Ghost. The song in question, ‘Morning Now’, is off a new rarities collection named after Schmale’s late-grandmother Rosalind. The entire Rosalind EP is a reflection on all things old, lost and buried in the past. The seven songs on the EP were evidently influenced by old black and white and sepia photographs of his grandmother. There’s a beautiful loving quality to the collection that sounds a bit like an obituary, written with such passion and emotion that it sounds slightly morbid. ‘Morning Now’ is clearly the highlight, with it’s wonderfully sharp guitar combining perfectly with Schmale’s wiry, rustic voice. Elsewhere ‘Snowrabbit’ is a rattling boxcar number, recalling the roots of travelling musicians from the cotton fields of Memphis, Tennessee. ‘The Birth Of My Son’ continues the storytelling, with a simple guitar riff bouncing about while the story burns and freezes with the phrase “hold your hands out boy”. There’s more to discover from That Ghost that doesn’t need describing here, and I’m sure this is just the beginning of my love affair. Whether you like folk music (Nick Drake, Woody Guthrie), Delta blues (Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson) or slightly more psychedelic versions of both (Devendra Banhart, Sic Alps), That Ghost is a great discovery.
The Rosalind EP, along with That Ghost’s previous three releases, Songs Out Here (2011), Get It And Get Out (2009) and Young Fridays (2008) can all be downloaded from Two Syllable Records’ Bandcamp page. While you’re there, check out some other excellent records by Holiday Shores and Inlets.