02 July 2019 (released)
13 August 2019
For most of us, evolving as a person involves shattering the moulds that held us in our younger years. The process of growth for anyone generally involves breaking free of the negative patterns that have shaped the way we are today. Whether that's overcoming an ingrained fear or shaking a pattern of negative behaviour taken on as a coping mechanism. We're conditioned to recoil from our traumas and the consequences of that are far-reaching and manifest themselves in all kinds of weird ways. Moving forward is a matter of removing the direct impact of these influences and relegating them to a distant past iteration of the self.
The second collaborative record between Californian troubadours Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz has this idea at its core. The title Ghosts to Ancestors refers to psychoanalyst Hans Loewald's idea of psychotherapy as a means to turn the ghosts of one's past into “ancestors”, acknowledging the lineage but removing them from undue influence on a patient's life. The songs, as you might expect, are warm thoughtful, patient ruminations trying to get at the heart of the human experience. Anders and O'Bitz have surrounded themselves with renowned (and one Grammy-winning) session musicians who tastefully play background to their melancholic songs of love, loss and struggle.
The opener 'Lopsided Gyre' sets the tone for the record, a think-piece with the steady pacing of a wistful Tom Petty track. Anders muses poetically about taking on rising forces both as a meditated evil and as a force of nature. The combination of his sorrowful soothsayer persona with the blooming production makes for a moving anthem for dark times. We move seamlessly into 'Wonder a Time' which brings the macrocosm into the micro. Anders hits on this idea of ghosts of the past moving through us, the act of recognizing how much they are controlling us and the struggle to shirk the chains of our pasts. Anders' voice ventures into Bon Iver territory. Errant organ swells through the verses personify these lingering spirits while three weighty piano chords hold down the chorus.
They veer into country gospel territory with 'See the Blight' using the familiar third to fourth to third chords, uplifting background vocals and a welcoming banjo that moves the piece along at a leisurely saunter. The banjo holds steadfast through 'Wounded Son' a track that ventures into the indie Americana territory of Roadkill Ghost Choir or The Lumineers. Second half highlight 'To The End's lush vocals and earnestly strummed guitars provide a green garden in which to reflect on the sum of the parts of a life.
Anders and O'Bitz have teamed up to create a beautiful record of pensive pieces. Borrowing from gospel and classic Americana when needed to shape their vision. Best listened to when the wistful vibes take over.