At first blush The Sound of Ghosts appear just like a million other Californian Americana bands knocking around, but these guys stand apart from the rest. Hailing from Los Angeles, the quintet originally formed The Sound of Ghosts in memory of a beloved friend who lost his battle with cancer at a young age. This friend – Dave Lamb – made his mark as part of a musical outfit Brown Bird with whom he earned NPR’s coveted Folk Group of the Year. The Sound of Ghosts’ primary objective is to keep Lamb’s passion for music alive.
From their new album Delivery and Departure, ‘Train to Nowhere’ is a fast-paced, jaunty tune; headily rhythmic and judiciously interspersed with delicate banjo picking. The sonorous vocals – provided by Anna Orbison – tells the familiar tale of travelling a road with the unimpeachable belief that there is no going back. Despite this, there is a strong sense of place and belonging which is contrasted strongly with the desire to be anywhere else but here. It’s got all the hallmarks of archetypal Americana: trains, whiskey, deserts and sleepless nights.
But then it all changes. A break in the song allows for the introduction of a shining, lone trumpet (quite possibly a Mexican trumpet) which tears apart the traditional tonality of folk music with a few deftly handled flat notes which brings the entire song to New Orleans. Well, New Orleans with a strong Cajun influence. This is followed by a short, but impactful violin solo by Phoebe Silva.
While there isn’t anything ground breaking in ‘Train to Nowhere’, The Sound of Ghosts have what is sorely lacking in a lot of today’s releases – a whole lot of heart.
Delivery and Departure is available now from the usual places.