Roam Like Ghosts is back with their sophomore release ...to that place you call home, which follows up their 2017 debut, Yesterday and the Day Before that I reviewed right here on Divide and Conquer. The two-man band based out of Reston, Virginia and Cary, North Carolina, play original acoustic songs. Consisting of Mathew Daugherty on vocals and Bucky Fairfax on guitars, the pair blend genres, from rock to folk for an alternative acoustic sound, along with “progressive and swampy flair.” Their new full-length album expands on the elements of the band's acoustic sound, exploring love and loss, life and death, hope and fear and delivers a reflective and emotive mix of songs.The album was partly written and mostly recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and lock down, which made recording all that more of a challenge but rewarding for the duo. Recording was done at Osceola Recording Studios in Raleigh, North Carolina with Dick Hodgin (Hootie and The Blowfish, Cravin' Melon, Clay Aiken, Corrosion of Conformity, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Quest). A number of guest musicians are featured this time around, providing percussive and ethereal accompaniment to the album's well rounded alternative sound. Anything from a flute, to a violin, to a Rhodes keyboard and even a Mellotron – sounds like there’s something for everyone!
For starters, “Before We Began” begins with vintage scratchy record album sound and a nice, light and dark mellow mix of the acoustic and drowning electric. This one’s instrumental – a nice way to begin. “Memory of You” offers a steady, swaying beat packaged in an alt-country style. The lyrics read like a letter to an old friend, looking back on your life and how the once important things seem to just “fade away” over time. “Disappear” feels a little more earthy, and rock n’ roll-ish, and it features harmonica played by Steve Harvel. It kind of reminds me a bit of Mellencamp’s “Paper and Fire.” “Photograph (Don’t Forget Me)” is very bittersweet. There is a definite ballad quality to it, and it features Kait Moreno on violin. Lyrically, the band’s words are universal and could apply to anyone I suppose, but I think here, they are more apt to a special person in someone’s life. In any case, it’s a great song and it delivers a simple, lovely message.
Next up is “Rewind” and the words are delivered in the second person. There’s a catchy guitar riff as well. The bells accompanying the melody are perfect for this tune and there’s a fantastic sing-along line – “You can’t always take back - the words you say, no, a candle can’t always light the way back home.” I flipped out when I heard the next song – “Find You.” There’s vintage, there’s warmth, and there’s a flute, played by Paul Weisenfeld, and oh yeah – gorgeous singing! I get crazy when bands blend their own styles, along with tints of old school and different instruments. You know, things that give you pause – and goosebumps. I may be biased, but start with this song, or at least give it a listen. “Sara” is about a girl and a message of staying true to yourself, and that having fame and fortune is just a fleeting moment. This one’s got an acoustic-rock quality to it a la Tesla.
“Sum of All My Wrongs” offers the listener darker tones and dark themes – “The sum of all my wrongs won’t equal the one thing I got right.” Nice work done on the Hammond organ or Rhodes keys by Chad Barger. The lyrics to “The Great Unknown” as I read them, describes what would happen, or rather what did happen, to countless couples who went through Covid together which eventually resulted in their deaths. It’s a sad song, but tenderly written and played. Similarly, “In a Moment” delivers themes of regret, death, and those moments in our lives when we make split decisions, whether they be good or bad. The last track “Close Your Eyes”, invites a child who doesn’t want to go to sleep, to go to bed already! – or perhaps, encourages someone who is on their death bed to “close their eyes” and “go to sleep.” Judging by the lighter mood of the tune, I suspect it was written with a child in mind. Either way, it’s a great closer with a nice sounding bass melody played by Bobby De Rosa.
Overall, this is a solid, well rounded album by Roam Like Ghosts. Recommended.
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