Roam Like Ghosts – Yesterday And The Day Before – Review

Roam Like GhostsA musical partnership with a multi-decade history, Roam Like Ghosts is an innovative blend of roots-y sounds, put through a post-grunge alternative lens. Comprised of vocalist Mathew Daugherty and guitarist Bucky Fairfax, the acoustic duo has a released a debut album entitled Yesterday and the Day Before. Anchored by graceful guitar playing and augmented by introspective vocals, the music takes the listener an emotional ride through the ebb and flow of life.

Roam Like Ghosts – Yesterday And The Day Before

The album opens with “When the Wind Blew”, a bluesy foot-stomper built off of plucky guitar and banjo. The most swamp influenced track on the record, the listener is instantly transported to the bayou. Daugherty’s vocals enter with “Beat up is this heart of mine”, and the song reaches a lyrical climax with “If I die before I wake, let the ground take what it can take”, a perfectly encapsulating the connection with the land that embodies so much of folk music.

With “Go On”, the listener finds Fairfax exploring a more atmospheric and modal harmony, as opposed to the grounded blues of the opening track. The airiness of the guitar allows Daugherty room to build, lyrically exploring the push-pull of relationships. “If you want to scream out loud / If you want to break me down / if you want to leave right now” he belts out in the chorus, answering each line with a calmer and calculating “Go On”.

Things slow down on “Take it On the Chin”. Fairfax deftly plucks, infusing syncopation into his melancholy harmony. After Daugherty softly enters, Fairfax begins a rhythmic stomp; pulsing at first and then constant, the guitar signals the vocals to climb into an eventual crescendo. Daugherty sings: “Here I go, fallin’ in all over again”, an acknowledgement that change is never easy to enact in one’s day to day life. Punctuated by haunting guitar breaks, the call and response choruses build to a fever pitch by the end of the song.

Guitar syncopation begins “If Walls Could Talk” as well; however, here the bittersweet mood tends more towards the wistful than depressing. A meditative feeling prevails, albeit through regretful lyrics. “Ya never realize ‘til it’s too late, a smile covered up the pain” sings Daugherty, reinforcing the 20/20 hindsight evident elsewhere on the record. The song climaxes with an anthemic romp, flourished with triumphant 3-part vocal harmonies.

“Heaven’s Light” finds the duo indulging their darker and more dissonant side. Menacing guitar interweaves with ominous vocals to create a mood unlike any other found on “Yesterday and the Day Before”. The post-grunge 90’s influence is especially present on “Heaven’s Light”, as Fairfax and Daugherty faithfully conjure the spirit of Cantrell and Staley (Alice in Chains).

Overall the duo does a respectable job of filling out the sonic palette on the record. Some songs could benefit from more instrumentation, but generally speaking the texture is rich and full. Lyrically, Daugherty may be exhausting the topic of flawed romantic interaction, but again the album does not suffer for it, as both his and Fairfax’s creative performances more than balance any lyrical repetition.

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