[27 February 2012]
Long Lost Ghosts, the 8th studio album by prolific Chicago folky Emily Hurd, is full of populist imagery and upbeat ballads. It’s folk with a hint of country that harkens back to a time when folk and country were more or less the same thing.
The images of “barren fields” and “phone lines” that haunt Long Lost Ghosts are often decades past relevant, but Hurd pulls it off with an ear for simple structures, familiar arrangements, and emotionally punchy lyrics. “I Love You Too” is an easygoing crowd sing-along and “My Favorite Part” is sweet without being saccharine. The title track, despite some rough mixing, is a catchy love song in the spirit of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”. It’s the kind of song that doesn’t feel dated even if spiraling fuel costs have made the prospect of traveling the country by Greyhound bus about as viable as sending letters to your sweetheart by Pony Express.
Though Hurd brought in a handful of Chicago artists to expand the album’s sound, Long Lost Ghosts still has a personal quality to it, as though Hurd painstakingly layered these songs one instrument at a time in her own home. It sounds like a labor of love, which makes the defiant sense of optimism that coats each track feel all the more genuine. Even the most depressing lyrics dare you to believe that love won’t triumph after all.