If you are currently sat in a darkened room, curtains drawn and lights out, with a bottle of whiskey and a jar full of tablets to hand then you do not want to be listening to this album. Nope, ol' Scott hasn't called his band The Road Home for nothing; he sure as hell ain't talking about where he lays his hat on an evening, that's for sure.
Neurosis vocalist Scott Kelly has been a bit of a busy boy of late. Not content with knocking out a phenomenal collaboratory acoustic album of Townes Van Zant covers ('Songs Of Townes Van Zandt' with Steve Von Till and Wino), he has now had a go at writing his own stuff in a similar vein and recorded it with Noah Landis and Greg Dale (collectively The Road Home).
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'The Forgiven Ghost In Me' is a stripped back, forty-one minute collection of eight songs that are predominantly built around a single vocal and acoustic guitar sparingly garnished with fiddle, lap steel, keyboards and electric guitar. Scott Kelly's striking voice is a rasping road weary grumble that given a superficial listen is quite comforting but dig deeper and you will find a current of darkness that can be quite disturbing.
His association with experimental Metal band Neurosis has stood him in good stead here because, and I quote: "This record continues my passion for acoustic experimentation, this time with a more fleshed out sound and a more diverse use of musicians and instrumentation. But in the end, as I have stated before, this is all about the songs in their rawest form. The stories that they reveal and the emotions that run rampant through my heart."
Kelly's guitar work is as sparse as his voice is bleak. There are moments that sound like he's tried the same down tuned tricks on his acoustic that he would do on an electric and his style of playing isn't subtle, sounding at times clunky and clumsy yet it fits this highly personal sort of stuff perfectly.
'The Forgiven Ghost In Me' is not an album to dip into; its songs are all good, demonstrating that no amount of Marshall stacks, raw meat eating and pantomime gestures of aggression can ever supplant the lone acoustic guitar and vocal for sheer power and ability to move people.
Yet there's no killer track; no track that makes you want to press replay. Though the album as a whole works a treat, the individual tracks are too samey and tend to blur into each other after a while. By doing the Townes Van Zandt covers album Kelly has created a point of reference against which his own song writing is still found to be a little wanting and given time he'll get there but at the moment the relentlessness can get a bit wearying.
Yet there is a ripple of hope that runs through 'The Forgiven Ghost In Me' that bodes well for the future. Yes this is a haunting album of pain and reflection, BUT, rather than being a catalyst for suicide, it is a reminder that though the past may have been bleak the future can still be bright.
The less fragile among you will find the album the perfect companion for deep contemplation whilst you are sat in a darkened room, curtains drawn and the lights out, with a bottle of whiskey and a damn good cigar.