Album Review: Thea Gilmore – Ghosts and Graffiti

Thea Gilmore GhostsThea Gilmore has made an art form out of steadily producing albums since she first started back in 1998. Without ever taking more than a two year gap between albums, some years have even been lucky enough to see two releases and that’s without taking into account her EPs or singles. Needless to say that her impressive back-catalogue is an outstanding collection and she has been working tirelessly all of these years to continue to produce such a steady stream of outstanding music – her latest offering Ghosts and Graffiti is another perfect addition to her collection.

Ghosts and Graffiti is a charmingly beautiful collection of songs that are all capable of lifting your spirits to the sky and with this at times it can feel almost like a stunning exercise in artistry. Not simply enough to be about the music alone Ghosts and Graffiti is littered with rich and vibrant sounds that do far more than just scintillate your aural senses, instead Gilmore paints a picture; flashes and bursts of vivid colours dance across your vision as you listen to an album that acts as a monstrous canvas upon which Gilmore has crafted layers upon layers of life. There is a rich vein of Celtic-country infusion throughout with soaring strings meeting boasting acoustic melodies only to melt into the background as another stunning musical extravagance edges its way to the forefront of the song. Her style is constantly adapting and evolving with every note and key.

Ghosts and Graffiti conceals within it a vast and lively array of music styles outside of the folk-Celtic-country melodies Gilmore is known for. At times songs such as Razor Valentine feel as if they are ebbing into the territory of Blues and her album takes bold, experimental turns even opting to close the album with her own Christmas song That’ll be Christmas – an enchanting Christmas melody that belongs on every festive playlist. There are moments where lyrics become more like poetry set to music than songs themselves – songs such as Don’t Set Foot Over the Railway Track which features John Cooper Clarke are a break from the norm and utterly intriguing. This one in particular is laden with lines such as ‘Jesus has a nose ring and Mary has tattoos’ and makes for a fascinating and unyielding look at our culture today.

Despite these experimental forays into other genres Gilmore does tend to stick primarily to her own stunning Celtic folk edge which has made her a household name. With such a versatility to her talent her music is capable to reaching tenderly into the heart of every listener asking them to think whilst simultaneously raising their spirits and as she opts to ramp up the tempo on several of her songs with a soft rock edge or strong country twang her music is consistently exciting and enthralling. With the rise and fall of every note your attention is never anything other than demanded.

Holding it all together of course are the truly amazing vocals of Gilmore herself. Her voice is smooth and soulful, warm, tender and filled with a heartfelt compassion. It flows like the tide itself – beautiful, mesmeric and entirely natural and it is this wondrous sound that truly draws you in like a moth to a flame. Combine this with her lyrical ability which is more akin to storytelling; her every song a tender tale, then you have in your possession an album that will fight its way to the front of your mind, an album that has to be heard, an album that is completely incapable of being background noise.

Joe Knipe

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