Hail The Ghost – Forsaken – Review
Let’s forget the Love/Hate thing for a minute. Hail The Ghost are three guys from Dublin. Their album Forsaken is out now. It’s a rich collection of work that embodies the resonance of John Grant, the sombre sedation of The National, with sonic ambiance leaning towards Interpol.
Forsaken is beautifully bleak. Evocative arrangements, lush melodies and soothing lullabies envelop serious lyrics on dark subjects. Written by Kieran O’Reilly, all kinds of intense issues are alluded to within this ten song offering.
‘Headstoned’, which was released last December, outlines a cynical judgement of someone who’s been found guilty, a callous, self-groomed charlatan, inflicting hurt and pain. Enough pain to create a “whole field of headstones”. Broody and melancholic, with ominous vocals following a minimalist piano lead. Picture this opening scene: “Man sits, tight arms, rope wrapped around his fist. Two girls run in to the sound of the cracking whip. This is all engineered by him. Cold beads of sweat are alien to him. He sits across as if he’s holding court”. Sounds like the start of a crime thriller script. It’s actually the first verse of ‘Even Judas’. Compelling words from Kieran, before the gently tempered, well-timed melody reinforces the tension.
Almost a love song is ‘Lazise’. Lyrically referring to the town in Northern Italy, I can only guess that it holds a place in Kieran’s heart. The song morphs into a love song of promise, “Everyday can be our Lazise”. The pretty percussion starts with a ticking clock, enduring piano gathering momentum until hopeful brass lends itself to the clever yet simple arrangement. ‘Beneath The Fog’ brings the baritone vocals to seductive capacity, delivering “Wild flowers don’t deserve to feel the war that’s deep inside of me/ I’m crawling beneath my low lying fog to breathe”. Razor sharp descriptions, self-loathing, hunters, victims, chains, rising keyboards and lonesome brass layer this like a box of Butler’s chocolates.
In search of the mystery behind this well crafted, polished and perfect melancholy we must refer back to the writer. Yes it is Kieran the detective from Love/Hate, the real life Garda who found himself playing out his life experience on Ireland’s most loved crime drama. He revealed on The Saturday Night Show that music has always been his thing. He’s been harboring his musical ambition for years. And it shows. With Ian Corr on piano and Eamonn Young on guitars, this trio have created an impossibly beautiful album. Perfect for Sunday nights.
Hail The Ghost are playing in Whelan’s on Thursday April 2nd. The album Forsaken is on iTunes and it’s only €8.99.
Review by Ciara Sheahan