Deadman: Our Eternal Ghosts

Jason MacNeil

Texas duo sounds like the perfect nightcap to a Ryan Adams/Caitlin Cary reunion show. Eerie, airy but rarely so complete is this record.


Our Eternal Ghosts

Label: One Little Indian
US Release Date: 2005-08-02
UK Release Date: 2005-07-04
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate

After releasing their recent EP, 2005's In the Heart of Mankind, Deadman, better known to friend and family as Texas natives Steven and Sherilyn Collins, have returned with an album that will challenge some listeners but leave others rooting for their old country duet compilations. The tender and graceful opener "When the Music's Not Forgotten" ensures you that this song will not be forgotten. Not for a long, long time. Whether you think it ranks up there with Gram and Emmylou or Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary, this gentle, hypnotic tune has a great yet sparse production and feel that brings to mind a Daniel Lanois-produced tune. A lithe keyboard accent starts it off but it's basically the honest harmonies of the Collins two which make it soar. The lyrical content is also potent, speaking of how the discipline is seen as a commercial accessory more than a precious craft. The fact it was also penned after the passing of June Carter Cash only gives it greater credence. Perhaps Emmylou Harris' recent work is the best comparison stylistically. And while it's a fantastic opener, it's not the blueprint that Deadman subscribe to. Not by a long shot.

"Won't Be Long" is such an example, as it comes off a tad soulful with some R&B feel. Steven Collins sings the song as if trying to pass on a top-secret message in a telephone booth, bringing to mind the Twilight Singers' Greg Dulli. Airy and at times atmospheric, the song scampers along without a care in the world as he speaks the lyrics as much as he does sing them. "Brother John" returns to the opener's glory with the sweet, gorgeous duets and the laidback groove that glides the song along. "Well it's hard to believe, but that's how it goes / One year just bleeds into five", they sing effortlessly prior to a harmonica chiming into the bridge. However, they venture into a darker, dreary frame of mind during "Werewolves" that sounds like Deadman trying to cover a possible collaboration between Eric Andersen and the Doors. Spacey at times and not that promising, the song gets going somewhat in the chorus.

The centerpiece (if there can be in a 10-song record) has to be "The Monsters of Goya", another deliberately paced gem devoid of any padding or polish. What you have is a great song, greater performances, and fantastic musicianship all around, resembling the likes of Knife in the Water to some extent. Drummer John Scully sets the tone with the other players subtly adding color to the track. The closing refrain builds the song up but not to the point of overkill. Would've been perfect to close Ryan Adams' Gold, but oh well... And by now the listener will probably come to realize that the country or Americana ebb will now morph into a darker, eerie flow with "Sad Ole' Geronimo" that has some edgy guitar riffs initially prior to the chorus, always brimming under the surface but never breaking through the hazy, psychedelic fog. The lullaby ballad-ish "Slow Dance" is just that as this time Sherilyn Collins takes the wheel, whispering her lyrics in the vein of Grey DeLisle with a childlike innocence.

Deadman use every ounce of their talents to make this seem so easy, especially on the solid "Absalom! Absalom!", which ends up winding itself around a carefully created bluesy sway. If you think that puts you to sleep, try the ethereal, hymnal "Love Will Guide You Home" that is basically the icing or perfect dessert on this album.


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

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

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

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