Sanders Bohlke’s haunting new album Ghost Boy is one of the most emotionally rewarding collections of songs and sounds that I’ve heard in a long time.
Describing Bohlke’s work to others, I talk first about his powerful, rich, versatile voice.
But for much of Ghost Boy, Sanders restrains that voice. The short song “Atlas” is purely instrumental; the title track has textured backing vocals, but the lyrics are often delivered at something just above a whisper; on “Death Is Like a Beating Drum”, Sanders’ voice at first seems in danger of retreating completely, of slipping into a crack somewhere in the sound.
Those already familiar with Bohlke’s work might have had chances to hear a few of these songs — “Death Is Like a Beating Drum”, “An Unkindness of Ravens”, “The Loved Ones”.
But it’s problematic to talk about individual songs. As noted on Bohlke’s website, Ghost Boy was conceived as a “complete work” — with each track somehow growing out of the ones before it.
As an entire work, Ghost Boy explores love, loss, longing, passion, and myriad other emotions. But there’s a beautiful simplicity to the often mesmerizing music, which seems to open up an entire landscape into which the listener is invited.
Or maybe it’s not a landscape as much as a house — a rambling old house — with each room holding the remnants of memories of folks who moved out or on many years before.
The video “Ghost Boy” is one of the finalists for regular play on mtvU — click here to cast your vote.
Ghost Boy has also been featured by Southern Living.
Here’s the video for “Ghost Boy”:
Click here for Ghost Boy on iTunes. Highly recommended.
I was lucky enough to hear Sanders live at the Savannah Stopover in both 2011 and 2012. A few photos: