Ghoste by GHOSTE
Some albums are by their discreet charm easy to overlook. They don't arrive with a fanfare, nor do they depart with a scream. They are dreamlike in their construction and just as elusive. One such confection is the debut recording by GHOSTE, with a silent E. A perfectly exquisite soundscape of restraint and melancholy, this collection of urban and suburban hymns to aspects of the ageing process, is a revelation. Refined and mannered it echoes elements as diverse as David Sylvian at his most serenely aloof, Annie Lennox at her most calculating and Sarah McLachlan's most winsome mannerisms, in its winnowing manifestations.
A selection that slowly burns into the soul. Considered and concise, but never laboured, betraying a tremendous lightness of touch this is the kind of collection that rewards the luxury of repeated listenings. An odd mix of electro ambient acoustic, there is an ethereal sensibility at play. "Ghoste" is a new guise for the respected singer songwriter Jenny Bruce as a reaction to tipping the point remark that her mother once made to her about getting older, that after after fifty as a woman one becomes invisible. Her collaboration with composer and producer Matt Anthony is anything but ignorable, and is all too delightfully and cohesively, apparent.
The album skips into life with the condidently laconic, but essentially pop assured "Slow Motion." A radio friendly song and deliciously catchy. It slips neatly into "Brick By Brick" which has a foot each in the mannered melancholic angst of Cyndi Lauper and yet could equally easily reside on a album by latter day pop princess. "Deep Water" presents a sublimely sorrowful slither of a song implicit of bathing in an Irish mist of sadness. Wistful, evocative and persistent it slips and slides and glides. A more muscular and strident vibe manifests in "Back To Life" with an almost military drum underscoring a beat that runs in tandem with some assured piano touches.
"Haunted" lives up to the title, a swoon of longing reflectiveness with a heartfelt and diligent refrain of...
"I am haunted.
I am haunted, by you.
Never never gonna let you go."
...and pertains to astute question of who is haunting who, the singer or the elusive subject of her song.
Ghoste turns "Fix You" by Coldplay into a swirl of of poignancy without the mewling aspects that marred the original. From a bedrock of blips and unusual soundscapes she renders it an anthem for the present crisis of strange and unsettling days, gifting a hymn-like elegance and grace. "Hold On" has a beguilingly enrapturing element as it strides meaningfully along. "Stay Up With Me Tonight" holds an uptempo confection that could easily be remixed to become a dance-floor filler. A grand piece of confident pop.
With "Chien En Loup" the album's sole song in French, whose tremendous eloquence and verve reminds me of Arielle Dombasle at her most elusively arch, we are gifted a paen to twilight. One in which to sway into with a glass of sparkling gin or fine dark red wine as a sprinkle of welling tears escape. It is utterly captivating and mesmerising. A rare, fine thing of beauty.
"Little Star"arrives as a perfect curtain closer. Think Klaatu's "Calling Members Of Interplanetary Craft" and as it sways and rises with a raft of electronic voices you don't want it to end, but end it must
Essentially an album of many rewards this is a brave work and a total change in direction, but essentially still has all the elements that renders Bruce such a majestic and insightful songwriter. The two acoustic versions of "Back To Life" and "Haunted" included as bonus tracks at the end are proof perfect, if any was required, that in order to spin songs into the weave we have in this glorious album, you must first have to have the songcraft and eloquence from which to launch from in the first place.
It is hoped that this is the beginning of a dual career as the gothic, whispery Ghoste and the poised and understated brilliance that has sustained her till now. There is nothing worse than the fear of being rendered invisible by age. We have her late mother to thank for being the sybil who drew this discreet masterpiece from her daughter. A perfect example of how not to go gentle into any kind of night.
The cover is a divine image of gothic grace. Think St Vincent in a tryst with the forgotten vamp that was once Nazimova. It is the perfect defiant visual representation of the album's conceit. Most ghosts are presumed to be silent like the E at the end of the title.This one isn't. It holds a simmering collection of prompts and whispers, and is as near to perfection as one can get.
Prepare to be haunted with style.