Words by Tom Johnson
There’s an earthy familiarity that prevails from the outset of Ghosts We Must Carry, the new, and second, album from Glasgow folk outift The State Broadcasters. Subtle and delicate tales of love old, new, lost and found provide the records backbone, around which soft but warm instrumentation coils and wraps itself, creating a sparse but thoroughly eneveloping landscape.
Despite the heavyness suggested by the album title, the LP is an often breezy affair – flourishes of horns, piano and a selection of strings emerge at varying points – and it never gets bogged-down under the sentiment behind the story arc.
The most sombre track on the album could well be it’s introductory offering; The Only Way Home is supposedly a tribute to the much-missed Vic Chesnutt and Mark Linkous, but like all the best tribute songs you wouldn’t necessarily determine that without the information to-hand.
From that point, the album takes a far more folkier turn with both Trespassers and first single Kittiwake providing upbeat sentimentality through a variety of warm vocal harmonies and toasty musical back-drops.
There is often an argument that a record has to throw a curve-ball in, some sudden and dramatic departure from the norm, to keep us all entertained and on our toes. This is, of course, nonsense. Ghosts We Must Carry does not do this, and in no way should that be seen as a black mark against it’s name. The indistinct and slight alterations in both tone and pace, provided by the changes in vocals (Gillian Fleetwood occassionally takes over lead duties from Graeme Black) do more than enough to keep you entertained. The delicate nature of the record, in fact, is what makes the whole thing a completely compelling and enchanting adventure; albeit one that moves along a well-known and much-trodden path. As the band themselves sing on album centre-piece ‘Where I Belong‘;
“These old songs, they do no wrong.“
Amen to that.
Ghosts We Must Carry is out now and you can buy it here; http://www.olivegroverecords.com/