Amys Ghost - Lullaby
Steven Morgan 06/11/2009
When listening to the few tracks available at Amys Ghost's Myspace, their music was enjoyable but lacked a little bite in the songs that involuntarily grabbed your attention. There were some great tunes, but I'd often find my attention drifting into a general feeling of detached serenity rather than getting being captivated by the subtleties of the tunes I was hearing.
That all changed when I pressed play on Lullaby. The first one minute ten of the song are an adrenalised joy as each element of the instrumentation is systematically introduced until the full otherworldly presence of the band emanates from your speakers. From the reverbed jangle of rhythm the song starts with, there's a sense of urgency that's capitalised upon by Amy Barton's voice sounding unusually commanding above the haunting alternating piano line & harmonised vocal ahs beneath. The vocal punch isn't Corin Tucker sized, but as ferocious as Amy's gentle chords will deliver and more than enough to grab you by the time the pulsing bass and pumping rhythm section kicks in.
The chorus sees a slight respite with the cello bringing a slight retrospective to the proceedings as Amy's voice sweetly delivers the central hook of the song "Gonna find in me, the will to breathe". At about the two and a half minute point, it takes an almost awkward transition into a whole new section that bares little resemblance to what came before it. In comparison with the former powerful half of the song, you feel this might be a distracting middle eight before a return to the song's peak, but instead the music breaks down to that reverbed jangle from the introduction and the song somewhat deflatedly ends.
It's a promising song that shows another side to the band, but there's a grandness to the sound within this band that you feel the band haven't quite yet gotten the opportunity to realise. Much like listening to early Decemberists material now, you hear the huge potential in the music, but not yet with the orchestrated majesty to backup the big ideas on hand.
The Warning remix sees the track stripped down to just vocals and cello and is a more affecting track over all. It makes full use of the ethereal combination of Amy's ghostly harmonies and the layers of string orchestration used to build the atmosphere. It plays to the strengths of the band. The stripped down style feels more comfortable, with the restrictive nature of the instrumentation meaning more is made out of the little that is present.
A similar thing can be said of the second b-side, a live acoustic performance of Turn To Run. The track shows that the band have no trouble reproducing these melodies live, presenting them in a magnificent stripped down performance that captures their ambient sound wonderfully.
Though not perfect, the single is still a great showcase of an incredibly talented band taking the right steps forward displaying their flexibility, but not quite yet realised.