Out Now: Ghosts I’ve Met – From A Spark

Out now on Yer Bird Records, Ghosts I’ve Met’s From A Spark is a beautiful, poignant debut album that finds singer-songwriter Sam Watts at the peak of his talent.  The debut LP, which features guests such as Jenna Conrad (Damien Jurardo), Anne Marie Ruljancich (The Shins), and Ben Blankenship (Modest Mouse), unfurls slowly in a wash of deeply-textured atmospheres that pull the listener deep into intimate reflection.  The effect is instant and striking, unfurling as it does like a rainy day with nothing but the view, some tea, and silence for company.

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Happy New Year! — A 2010 “Retropackle.”

Hey, everyone!  Happy New Year!  I hope that you have a good one, and that you’re surrounded by good food, friends, and music.  It’s been a long year over here (the epic dissertation struggle continues), and I haven’t always been the most attentive (you’re top of the list of New Year’s Resolutions!)… but I wanted to thank everyone for all their love and support.  I’ve been positively blown away by the amount of excellent music that has been sent my way, and the… well, legitimacy, I seem to have stumbled into.

So, in 2011, I’ll be stepping up to keep things rolling around here.  And I hope that you’ll be there, too!  And since it’s customary, follow me for some things I’ve loved this year, as well as some things I’m looking forward to in the New Year!

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New Music: Folk Music For What Lies Ahead

Just what is folk music?  Is it soft-spoken, intimate confessions poured out over an acoustic guitar?  Is it “We Shall Overcome,” sung on the National Mall?  Is it ever playful?  Joyful?  Does it do something other than teach?  Can it be “pop?”  Clearly, the answers to these questions are subjective, but at their core is a common notion: “Folk” music is “apart” from other music.  There is something different about the folk singer – that mythic figure of storytelling and poetic wisdom.  But is that really true?

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Ghosts I’ve Met: “Payphone Patience” EP

Sometimes, though not often enough, the Fates conspire to start your day off just right.  And so it was, this morning, when Ghosts I’ve Met‘s debut EP on Yer Bird RecordsPayphone Patience – arrived in my Inbox.  Ghosts I’ve Met is – according to Yer Bird – “…a musical project that came to be in Seattle in 2005 by singer songwriter & musician Sam Watts.  There are often a cast of musicians that find themselves anchored by the songwriting talents of Sam Watts that then become “Ghosts I’ve Met”.”  Those musicians have included Margaret White of Sparklehorse, Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five, Brent Arnold (Modest Mouse, Built To Spill), as well as Michael Lerner of the Antlers.  Jessee plays piano on Payphone Patience.

The music itself is beautiful, lush folk music that reminds me of so many late nights spent driving through the sparsely-populated expanses of Western Massachusetts.  There’s a frost that attends Payphone Patience, and it feels that only the delicate, warm layers of harmony and strings keep it at bay.  Indeed, much like the campfire that you would expect to find these songs by, the warmth of the EP seems to swell over its five-song play list.  Listening to the album, one feels as if the ghosts that Watts’ evoked in the EP’s title are only just out of sight, and that they might very well come to sit with you – or, perhaps, within you – for a good long while.

I confess that this is the first I’ve listened to the music of Sam Watts, but it feels so very much like something that I’ve known and loved for ages.  It’s calming, and, in the best sense of the word, precious.  A feeling that’s truly hard to capture without using a phrase like “a giant reflecting pool for the soul.”  But as I’m no longer in tenth grade (I am, in fact, in the 21st grade), I’ll have to let that one go… Instead, I’ll tell you that it makes me think of dusk, and of breathing in some strong lapsang souchong while a hint of Autumn air moves gently under my collar…

I strongly encourage you to head over to Yer Bird and grab a copy.  It’s out today in digital release.  They’re absolutely right when they say that “you won’t regret it.”

Follow me for a sample and a video, and then go check out Ghosts I’ve Met on myspace:

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