ALBUM REVIEW: Andy Black - The Ghost Of Ohio
'The Ghost Of Ohio' begins with track one, 'Introduction: Resurrection'. This introductory track perfectly encapsulates the themes of the album, and establishes the main emotions to be felt within the rest of the album. Emotions are poured out in this track, suggesting that the following tracks are ones that share a story or a journey; a path that has led to this 'resurrection'. Additionally, the instrumentals used are reminiscent of past times, indicating that this may not be the same style that we are used to in an Andy Black album, but a style that reflects the values of the album. The conclusion of the song holds dialogue of Black himself, offering a glimpse into the characters of the album and an insight into their lives. With a tranquil outro, we are led to track two of the album.
Following is track two, 'The Promise'. Using more defined instrumentals, this song picks up from track one and establishes themes for the album. The strong lyrics display feelings of betrayal and crushed hope, but are presented in a triumphant tone through the musical elements. I feel this was a deliberate move from Black. Although situations seem too much to handle, there is always a spark of hope; a spark that can lead to better outcomes. The contrast between lyrics and sounds perfectly depicts this, and through this track, we are reminded to hold onto that glimmer of hope, no matter the overpowering situation. 'The Promise' presents important ideas and skilfully introduces some important themes for 'The Ghost Of Ohio'.
Track three is 'Westwood Road'. Instantly, you are hooked through the defined bass line of the track. Contrasting to the other two tracks, 'Westwood Road' provides a new type of style, almost creating a song that you can dance to. Despite the amount of groove found within the music, the lyrics depict a sadder situation; "so I kneel and pray, all my wasted days away". Muck like track two, Andy Black has mastered the combination of contrasting features, balancing out emotions and themes, and providing a message through this. A sense of positivity and an uplifting nature is found through the instrumentals, once again showcasing the ability to look to brighter days within certain situations. In the case of 'Westwood Road', it is much a case of forgetting the sorrows of the past and moving on to a brighter, better future. 'Westwood Road' redefines these themes of contradictory sounds, using them as a tool of encouragement and hope. It is clear to see that 'The Ghost Of Ohio' is an album about moving forward and not losing hope.
Following is track four, 'Know One'. The introduction of the track, filled with bass and darker vocals, instantly resembles a classic Andy Black sound. However, this is not a bad thing. within this new boundary pushing album, packed with new sounds and styles, seeing older influences assures the audience that the artist will never let go of their roots, and values the messages and content of their past work. 'Know One' is a track that content wise, is very heavy and can be interpreted in many different ways. This is an essential tool of communication between artist and fan, and allows for the sharing of values and opinions between the two. To me, I feel the album strongly questions society, what they value most, and as a result of these things, the terrible and in-erasable mistakes we have made. Most importantly, the lack of acceptance towards individuality and going against the social norms. In this case, the album shifts focus from self to society, however does not quite reflect the same hope as seen in previous tracks. Perhaps this is on purpose. We may be able to change our own mindsets and hold our own individual ways of thinking , but a collective group of destructive thoughts against self expression is harmful. 'Know One' depicts the power of thought-provoking messages in songs, allowing for self-thought within the audience. A call for the audience's thoughts shows that 'The Ghost Of Ohio' is an album that thrives off self expression and individual thinking, making it an important album.
Track five, 'Soul Like Me' follows. From the instrumentals to the vocals, this track holds a sense of empowerment. This is certainly solidified throughout the song , providing a ballad-type chorus. Furthermore, the song re-hatches themes found within 'Know One'; "and I'm trying to find another lost soul". Through these lyrics, the themes of a society shunning individuality are revisited, and are connected to the character of the album. It is a struggle to fit into a society that does not value similar things, thus becoming lost souls. Ultimately, a search for individuals is sparked, however this is not easy within a herd of sheep. The disturbing lack of unique thoughts within society is highlighted, and questioned. Not to mention a call is put out; a call which aims to bring these lost souls together. Through his music, Andy Black is using his platform in a positive way, perfectly highlighting the importance of uniqueness and creating a space where these thoughts are valued. As 'The Ghost Of Ohio' goes on, these important themes are certainly becoming deeper and more visible through musical elements.
'The Wind and Spark' is track six. This track places a greater emphasis on Black's voice, and the words communicated through it. Much like the earlier tracks of the album, the song focuses on themes of moving forward and escaping the places you once were. Although it does start to sound repetitive, this theme is quite important to audience's and holds a positive message that we can all take on board. I would rather this message of hope be etched into my brain than to forget it in a time of need. 'The Wind and Spark' helps to define 'The Ghost Of Ohio' as the highly influential and empowering album that it is.
Track seven, the namesake of the album, is 'The Ghost Of Ohio'. This track uses techno elements not used within the rest of the album, creating something different and creating a bit of a twist in the album. Alongside this, the introduction of the protagonist of the album and their qualities are displayed, recapturing the attention of the audience. Themes of changing, a dark past, and a new future are evident, effortlessly intertwining this track into the rest of the album. the introduction of this character puts a face to the feelings, and establishes a greater connection between the audience and the music. This was essential to not only recapturing the focus of listeners, but to establish this personal level of connection and relatability. 'The Ghost Of Ohio' is a perfect introduction to the masked emotions that have been discussed in the previous tracks.
Following is track eight, 'Heroes We Were'. All the elements of this song depict hope and positivity. However, despite showcasing these similar themes, they are presented in a different way. Whether this be because the song is fast paced or the vocals are layered differently, it offers a refreshing sense of these positive themes. Through this, 'Heroes We Were' leaves the audience feeling happy. It is a feel-good track; one that is uplifting and radiant. This track is different to other songs off 'The Ghost Of Ohio' in more ways than one, but ultimately becomes one of the standout tracks from the album.
Track nine is ' Feast or Famine'. Contrasting to the previous track, ' Feast or Famine' displays the use of heavier elements and hard hitting lyrics; "thunder in the blue skies, lightning in the daylight". Much like the contrast between this track and the previous, these lyrics depict the many contrasts of society. Once again, these could be referring to the loss of individuality and the actions of these people being overcome with negative forces. This is further reinforced; "I'm going hungry these days", highlighting that society no longer caters for everyone, but only for the collective thoughts of the 'normal' society. 'Feast or Famine' provides a new perspective of these societal issues, creating another dimension to the album 'The Ghost of Ohio'.
Following is track ten, 'Heaven'. A heavy piano influence is heard, accompanied by the monotone vocals of Black. The lack of climax in the song ultimately titles this track as the 'sad song'. However, its message and influence still hits as hard as previous tracks, it not harder. The song is filled with raw emotion, depicting the strong connection that is found between audience and artist. Most notably, this song is one of few that focuses on the positive aspects of the world, reflecting that if we look hard enough, we too can find our own "heaven" within society. 'Heaven' creates a rawness not yet discovered in the album, and unravels extra layers of emotion within the album of 'The Ghost of Ohio'.
Track eleven is 'The Martyr'. The verses of this song hold darker, sinister sounding elements, but are contrasted to the more uplifting choruses. The mix of elements creates unpredictability within the song; something which gathers any lost attention. Much like a few of the other songs, some classic Andy Black elements are heard, assuring that within this experimental phase of music, the sound we all know and love will always be apparent. 'The Martyr' is a creative song, highlighting the various elements put into the production of 'The Ghost of Ohio'.
The concluding track of 'The Ghost of Ohio' is track twelve, 'Fire In my Mind'. This track certainly holds a focus on the vocals of Black within the verses allowing for a connection to be made and raw emotions to be heard. However, the choruses revisit the techno elements found within some of the previous tracks. The combination of various elements accurately represents what has been used in the entirety of the album, summarising it perfectly. Additionally, themes of empowerment, hope and self belief are evident. Not only does this summarise the album, but it leaves the audience with a message; to live their life with these new morals in mind, to hold onto hope, and to always hold on to their sense of individuality. 'Fire In My Mind' strongly concludes 'The Ghost of Ohio', calling listeners to take on board the messages of the journey shared within the album.
Andy Black's second solo studio album, 'The Ghost of Ohio' is one that places a larger emphasis on the messages of music, rather than fancy production. Through simplistic beats and the familiar vocals of Black, we are called to listen, and most importantly, learn. The themes of individuality, self worth and hope are prominent, and creates an album which is truly important to a modern society audience. 'The Ghost of Ohio' is meaningful and hopeful, and showcases the importance of a connection between artist and audience. If you're in need of a pick me up, this is the album for you!
Written by Georgia Haskins
Have you listened to 'The Ghost of Ohio' yet? If not, listen below and tell us your thoughts in the comments: