Harpo’s Ghost

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5 Responses to “Harpo’s Ghost”

  • S. Jones:

    Review by S. Jones for Harpo’s Ghost
    Gorgeous voice, sweet and honeyed yet smoky. Constantly intelligent and barbed lyrics. Warm and engaging songs. Clear and precise production. What’s not to love here? Maybe for some earlier fans her edges have been smoothed off a little too much here. Some arrangements, and indeed songs, remind me of the late lamented (by me at least) Del Amitri and their sardonic songwriter Justin Currie.

    The only song which has so far passed by without scoring a deep place in my heart is Whistle And Steam. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful work by an exceptionally talented artist.

  • Rupert Davis:

    Review by Rupert Davis for Harpo’s Ghost
    Well, I don’t know how she does it.

    Thea Gilmore started out releasing masterpieces, and since then each successive album just gets better and better. Her reviewers have already exhausted most of the superlatives, but basically Thea is the most commanding, compelling and downright phenomenal songwriter of her generation. And then some. In years to come, this album should be remembered as making all other current singer-songwriters look like the scared kittens they are…hiding behind their psudo-indie posturing crapola, or clinging to their limp faux “no-honestly-I-am-a-folk-singer” marketing, while all the noise they’re making sounds just like the rest.

    From the churning, goading opening “The Gambler”, this album finds Thea at the peak of her incredible powers, spinning-off potent songs like sparks from a Catherine wheel. She moves from “Everybody’s Numb”‘s laceration of the modern music industry, to the snarling juggernaut of “We Built A Monster, to the harrowing starkness of the drug-addled lovers in “The List”, with total mastery and assurance.

    Harpo’s Ghost is a kaleidoscope of musical styles and roller-coaster emotions; “Red White And Black” is a haunting lullaby spine-tingling modern folk-song lamenting vanishing patriotism; the exhilarating “Call Me Your Darling” is all swirling Hammond and Dylanesque harmonica; “Whistle & Steams” rolls and sighs over a shuffling groove; personal demons are put to rest in “Contessa”, a song reminiscent of vintage U2 balladry, with one of Thea’s gorgeous melody that is special even by her standards; and finally to the ethereal “Slow Journey”, with its angelic backing vocals winding away like smoke through the night sky…

    …And then the players all troupe back again for the rousing encoure that is the hidden track, as they pick up their plywood again and learn to sing the blues.

    As I say, I don’t know how she does it.

  • M. W. Hilton:

    Review by M. W. Hilton for Harpo’s Ghost
    Another masterpiece, the worry is that yet again it will be too good to achieve the commercial success that Thea deserves. That this a Thea Gilmore album is evident from the start, it is however somewhat different to Avalance, but then that was from 3 years previously. It certainly does not, on first hearing have as many potentially catchy songs which might be needed for mass appeal. It does however gets better and better with every play.

    Reviews seem to have concentrated on Cheap Tricks and Everybodys Numb as being the stand out tracks possibly because they have a fuller sound and fine tracks they are, although We Built a Monster which is a pure rock track and probably least typically Thea is probably the most interesting track.

    All in all a fine album and a must for anyone who has appreciated Thea’s music to date

  • Algae-none:

    Review by Algae-none for Harpo’s Ghost
    Never thought i would say it but Thea has lost her edge with this album. It tends to grind awkwardly along rather than flow. Still a ‘decent’ album, just not what i’ve come to expect of Ms. Gilmore over the years. This effort is definitely below par for a girl of Thea’s obvious talent – listen to any of her previous works for proof! Prior to this album release Thea played a good handful of tracks from this record, and they were excellent in a live scenario. Problem is they have not translated at all well in terms of production values. Tracks such as ‘Call Me Your Darling’ and ‘Red, White & Black’ are brilliant on-stage but now they seem like ghosts of their former (live) incarnations. Sad but true.

    Can only hope this is a mere pothole in the road, and not a downturn in her career. Please tell me Thea has not peaked already!

    To sum up :: Could (and should) do better!

  • Adam K.:

    Review by Adam K. for Harpo’s Ghost
    Fans had high hopes for “Harpo’s Ghost”: the live previews of the songs sounded brilliant and it was with her biggest label yet, building on the slow-burning success of “Avalanche”, her previous album. This was going to be THE ONE!

    But something, somewhere, went very wrong. The result is curiously disappointing: a hard, glossy production that just doesn’t let the ears in, it’s like having highly varnished wooden blocks thrown at you, one after another. There was also the question of the strange sequencing: starting with the slow, anthemic “The Gambler” seemed a strange step and there’s a definite dip (in this reviewer’s opinion) somewhere in the middle as three songs feel as if they segue in and out of each other. The album is topped off with the brilliant, moody and haunting “Slow Journey II”, but this in itself is fatally undermined by being handcuffed to a hidden track, the jaunty and upbeat “Play Until the Bottle’s Done”, a great song in itself but a jarring presence after the sublime fade out of its predecessor. There are some fantastic songs on here, some of Thea’s best, but they feel over-processed and over-produced, with an unwelcoming sheen that makes it hard work.

    Making it worse was the fact that Sanctuary then found themselves in severe financial straits, and the album itself was lost in the shuffle, underpromoted and overlooked. It wasn’t the one, after all, and if any artist deserves “the one”, it’s Thea.

    Fret not, though: “Harpo’s Ghost” was a rare mis-step and her next album, “Liejacker”, saw her back on top form, while a version of “Everybody’s Numb” appears on her live album, “Recorded Delivery”, showing the vitality and punch it actually possessed outside of the studio.