The Ghost And The Grace

Behold! A Pale Horse

Written by: TL on 26/08/2009 23:25:47

For one reason or another, the last couple of promos I've been dealing with have been rather hard to assess and/or describe, so to try and get things going again, here's goes a review of what's hopefully the last of those, namely "Behold! A Pale Horse", the first LP from The Ghost And The Grace.

The one man band's multi-instrumentalist and mastermind Daniel Anderson writes on his myspace that his project is one dealing in folk / experimental / pop, and given the number of like-minded solo artists that have been reviewed here lately, that should already give you an idea of what kind of stuff we're dealing with here. The songs are casual and characterized by being littered with dominant horns and banjos in addition to the normal guitar and piano leads, and the main attraction is of course Anderson's lyrics, as he sings them in a voice that I can't help but to compare to that of Mark Hoppus, and hence draw an odd parallel between TGATG and Boxcar Racer..

Don't be confused though, given the mentioned horns and banjos, bells and whistles (and harmonicas.. and God knows what else), we are much closer to the neck of the woods that belongs to The Snake The Cross The Crown and especially Conor Oberst. There is a difference though, and one that's quite distinct, as TGATG is not as loyal to classic instrumentation as those acts, instead allowing for his songs to be modernly tinted, whether it is with electronic keys or that ever so subtle hint of auto-tune I think I detect on the singing. One thing I'm sure about though, is that he sets himself apart, if in no other place, then in the scream session that ends "Cloud Of Flies".

However, those screams only appear briefly, and as I've hinted, what mostly makes TGATG stand out from the pack of similar artists is first and foremost in his lyrics, yet also in his song writing. Because of the said casual nature of the record, the music does tend to stroll by in a rather inconspicuous manner, and that's despite the fact that it is actually quite playful and experimental when you listen to it. It is perfect however, for Anderson to deliver his quirky lines upon, as he, similarly to Third Eye Blind, let's out one controversial line after the other, yet always sounding like it's no big deal what so ever.

Choice pickings could be ones like these, respectively from the songs "Antlion", "What Have I Done" and "Nevada":

"There's plenty of songs about turning to love/ but this is a song about hate"

"I'll let you sink/ into the earth/ I am the driver/ of your hearse"

"That's not the way/ that it all works out/ 'cause life is/ just a game/ you'll never beat the house"

The cool thing about this record is that pretty much all the songs have clever little hook lines like these ones, and this makes the album a thoroughly rewarding listen. And it's even more so when you take the instrumentation, at the same time classy and odd, into consideration. Listening to it, you feel like TGATG checks every box needed to obtain the stamp of a 'quality record' and that the only thing he really needs to do to blow up a name for himself, is to either slightly refine his humorous writing style, or to somehow manage to fuse it with a bit more emotion in places. If he can do that, then his next record may contain one of those little ingredients that's missing here, namely a song or two that's either a) shamelessly catchy and unforgettable or b) emotionally moving and/or inspiring. Until then though, don't hesitate to let yourself be intrigued and amused by "Behold! A Pale Horse". I guarantee you, it'll put a smile on your face.

Download: What Have I Done, Antlion, Nevada,
For The Fans Of: Conor Oberst, The Snake The Cross The Crown, Boxcar Racer, Cast Spells, As Cities Burn (last record)

Release Date 06.07.2009

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