Music

Colin Blunstone: The Ghost of You and Me

One of the most unique and beautiful voices of the last 40-plus years, Colin Blunstone falls short with songs that fail to do justice to his gifts.


Colin Blunstone

The Ghost of You and Me

US Release: Import
Label: Ennismore
UK Release: 2009-03-09
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Colin Blunstone has one of the most unique and beautiful voices in popular music. For more than 40 years, his clear, compelling vocals have held millions of fans in thrall through Zombies classics, guest projects, and solo albums. On the heels of last year's successful Zombies reunion celebrating the anniversary of Odessey and Oracle, Blunstone has released The Ghost of You and Me, a record that has been in the works for the last 13 years.

A collection of love songs, The Ghost of You and Me starts off with the stirringly soulful title track. An atmospheric, piano-based ballad, it is breath-taking and suitably haunting as Blunstone sings: "I didn't mean to fall in love with you / And baby there's a name for what you put me through / It isn't love, it's robbery / I'm sleeping with the ghost of you and me".

He naturally imbues those words with an authenticity and an emotional depth that were entirely lacking in BBMak's 2001 rendition of the tune. It's a heart-wrenching benchmark for the album. Unfortunately, most of the remaining tracks fail to measure up.

It's not that Blunstone necessarily falters -- his voice and all its affecting qualities continue throughout -- but the songs themselves fall short. Roughly the first half of the compositions follows a similar structure to that of the title track, which is essentially a grand pop ballad. These songs have cloying arrangements and rather annoyingly adolescent lyrics, even for love songs. "Dance With Life" may be the worst offender, with its rambling opening verse:

I need to get you on my mind

I want to fill my head with you

And I can learn every word that's been written

And justify all that's been proved

For it's all been so simple 'til now

There's no brilliance like beauty out there

No knowledge as wise as the heart

We all need a reason to care

The second half of the album goes heavier on the strings courtesy of Chris Gunning, who also worked with Blunstone on the 1972 classic "Say You Don't Mind". Sadly, none of these even come close to that masterpiece, and it's again, partly, because of soppy, schmaltzy lyrics. It's also because all of these maudlin melodies are grouped together, dragging down the back end of the album. "Love Left a Long Time Ago" is almost a moment of light among the descending gloom, with a hummable pizzicato tune, but even it gets lost in the leaden laments surrounding it.

The Ghost of You and Me ends with "The Sun Will Rise Again", which sounds eerily like Nick Drake in its folkish arrangement, lyrical subject, and in Blunstone's phrasing. This one, too, should be a bright spot, but it seems somehow misplaced in the track listing, and as the album's end note it loses any power it may have otherwise possessed. Nevertheless, Colin Blunstone's ethereal voice still shines with an undimmed brilliance and undeniable beauty. Let's hope his next record won't squander such magnificence on substandard songs.

5

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image