Roadkill Ghost Choir - Quiet Light EP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Sept. 24, 2012
DeLand, FL. To most its an unknown city. Those who dig hard (or use Wikipedia), will find its the home of Stetson University and Chipper Jones. But all that might change in just a few years. Though it may be premature to say, DeLand might want to add a new relic to the town's roster: roots-band Roadkill Ghost Choir. On their debut EP Quiet Light, they make a startling and sterling statement about both their talent and their tenure.
A rising and sonorous banjo opens things up on "Beggars Guild," a haunting and dusty affair that rumbles along with a soaring and cinematic grace. A lilting trumpet adds depth to vocalist Andrew Shepard's whiskey-soaked vocals and the entire song feels culled from an Eudora Welty novel. Combining elements of self-defeat, loneliness, depression and southern Americana, "Beggars Guild," is a song that comes along once every decade. Though many might try, there are bands that might spend years trying to write a song this profound, and yet still never achieve it. That Roadkill Ghost Choir have done this on just their debut offering is only validation to the fact that they are truly groomed for success.
The six-minute epic "Drifter," glides forward from the opening seconds and seems more fitting for an opening statement than "Beggars Guild," but so it goes. Buttressed by a slide guitar, Shepard's vocals and a well-worn wooziness, there's something slightly hypnotic and halcyon about every passing second. At the three-minute mark, the song settles down and Shepard swims his way through a gauzy and gentle sea of bright acoustic instrumentation. From there, the song yields to a searing guitar solo and chases after something indelible and important. And it is in these few minutes that "Drifter," makes the biggest impact. Soaring to stadium-like heights, "Drifter," packs a wallop few if any saw coming. By the time the song finishes, one thing is for certain. Roadkill Ghost Choir are not messing around. This isn't just a band banging around in a basement and throwing out demos for mass consumption. No, Quiet Light is something entirely different. This is a band that hits at the very core of what makes people tic, sweat, curse and shake. And the dynamic movements in "Drifter," prove exactly that.
A light strum opens "Devout," a hypnotic and haunting slice of Southern gothic roots-rock that has an enveloping and evocative quality unlike very few of its peers. Having already flexed their proverbial musical muscles in the first two tracks, "Devout," only furthers the notion that the six members of Roadkill Ghost Choir know exactly what they're doing, and better yet, know how to do it without few, if any mistakes.
Penultimate cut "Tarot Youth," is a lilting piano-driven affair that calls to mind My Morning Jacket and Bon Iver. Being that they are a roots band, the song has flashes and tints of roots music, but actually has the most crossover appeal of any of the songs on Quiet Light. That small fact should serve the band well going forward. While roots music is garnering devotees by the minute, many are still off-put by its occasional twang. On "Tarot Youth," there's more of a Brit-rock veneer and the entire thing feels more akin to Radiohead than Gram Parsons. Quiet Light concludes with "Bird In My Window," a ruminative acoustic ballad that says and does more in three minutes than most bands will in an entire lifetime. Once again guided by Shepard's sincere vocals and an airy luminescence, "Bird in My Window," is an absolute masterpiece and another startling work from a band who seems to do very little wrong.
On their cover of Nirvana's "Penny Royal Tea," and demos "Future Day," and "In the Lion's Mouth," Roadkill Ghost Choir hinted that they were indeed a band worth remembering. But the power and grace showcased in just these five songs is enough reason to think that this Florida band is just a few short steps away from making a masterwork. Come to think of it, Roadkill Ghost Choir just might be the next Whiskeytown and Andrew Shepard just might be the next Ryan Adams. Don't think so? One listen to Quiet Light, might change your mind.
This was actually really fucking good. I dismissed the band when you first posted the review because I didn't recognize any of the similar artists. But tonight I was really bored and decided to give it a listen and wow!! Just really great stuff, a little different to what this site is used to, but man, I encourage anyone who's into the more folky stuff to check this out. I'm definitely purchasing it.