[1 August 2014]
If you do a web search on Blue Moon Marquee, chances are you’ll get a whole lot of links about Television’s seminal masterpiece Marquee Moon. However, Blue Moon Marquee shares nothing with Television. Instead, this outfit is described as a “Gypsy blues” band that hails from the badlands of Canada’s Rocky Mountain region in Alberta, and is comprised of the duo of A.W. Cardinal and Jasmine Colette. Lonesome Ghosts is the group’s sophomore album—a record called Stainless Steel Heart under the A.W. Cardinal banner was released last year—and it’s full of hardscrabble songs. Beginning with the barroom stomp of “What I Wouldn’t Do” and ending with the simple and bluesy title track, Lonesome Ghosts is a short record (it lasts about 28 minutes) that showcases the band’s wide range. And the recording is suitably lo-fi, as you can hear analogue tape hiss in places.
The album has a pleasant-enough start, but something happens about halfway through. By the time you get to “Gypsy Life”, you could swear that you’re listening to a Tom Waits song. Close your eyes without knowing anything about this album, and you could be easily fooled. Even Cardinal has the gruff voice of Waits, and, as far as imitations go, Cardinal nails it. The record pretty much continues in that vein, so, in the end, that makes Lonesome Ghosts a little uneven. You’ll wind up wishing that the group stuck to the Waits pastiche throughout, as their strongest material is when Cardinal and Colette are mining that aspect. Still, Lonesome Ghosts is an interesting and foot-tapping album of gritty blues, and it hones closely to tradition. It may not be Television, or Tom Waits, but it is well worth the sticker price.