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A Sparse Intensity That Instantly Intrigues – Resurrectionists’ New Album “Now That We Are All Ghosts”

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While not as frequently as we’d like, some records command our attention immediately, pretty much before we can even take a breath. This is one of those. And though an exciting prospect in itself, what makes it doubly so is when, prior to that instant flaring of the curiosity circuits in those jaded brain receptors of ours, the band at hand was unknown to us. Such was the situation just now as I hit ‘play’ on this Milwaukee project’s second album Now That We Are All Ghosts (released in every format a month ago on Seismic Wave Entertainment). More surprising still? It wasn’t some “London Calling”-style attention grab but rather, in a kind of ‘despite and because of’ kind of way, the very contrary, in this case naught but a slow, mournful, down-stepping bass progression joined in an eerie minor key harmony by the skeletal pluck of a banjo, which may sound ‘meh’ on the page but in real time, inside these headphones on a hushed Sunday morning, conveys a sparse intensity that instantly intrigues and brings a bit of a shiver that manages to be both warm and cool. It won’t, venturing further in, be the last time. As a band, Resurrectionists (aptly-named if only for the fact that just about every note connotes a feel of life being grabbed – by the throat if necessary – just as it teeters on the brink of its opposite) make it clear that they are committed to every sound and utterance and every breath between.

From the laconic lure of that opener with its kind of gothic Lee Hazlewoodisms (titled, by the way, “A Classic Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” a strong clue to this band’s thematic leanings), “Hobnobbing with High Value Targets” immediately allays any concerns of one-offness, grooving as it does with the vibe of a prog band from down yahoo way before “The Ghost This Time” tacks toward classic beer-crying country blues with singer (lyricist/guitarist/banjo man) Joe Cannon spinning off his woes with a lachrymose defiance and how’s this for a great line: “My heart…is not the problem…that it should be“? That’s just one of countless indications that what we’re dealing with here ain’t no fly-by-night proposition. While a conclusion no doubt obvious from their 2019 debut What Comes In (which your correspondent will be dutifully checking out first chance he gets) the fact is, here on the follow-up, Resurrectionists’ palette has been richly enhanced by the arrival into their midst of multi-instrumentalist Gian Pogliano (joining drummer Jeff Barto and bassist Jeff Brueggerman who also recorded and mixed this gem before it was sent to the incomparable Bob Weston for mastering). While Pogliano ‘merely’ credited with “tambourine, 12 string & ghost guitars and mellotron,” the sense one gets is of a core unit expanded exponentially even as the tension inherent in the band’s artful restraint remains intact.

Hence does the archly political “The Rest Cure” find its pointed message – “there’s a government we should ask…it doesn’t know, and we know that it doesn’t know” – underscored by a humbly grandiose sadness (or fatalism, take your pick). Hence does a substrata of unease help steer the troubling, minimalist lurch of “Blue Henry” toward the extended crescendo of chaos and passion it finishes with. Hence does the cracked idyllic patina of “Let Me Talk You Through This One,” hence the power and passion of final track “[hotel with pool]” that eventually unleashes with a careening abandon nonetheless held together even if by a fraying rope, appropriate we suppose given it’s a love song.

Lissome but pointed of lyric (Cannon’s got a gift for the tersely oblique-yet-direct), the arrangements stark without affect and thus engaging down to the marrow, Now That We Are All Ghosts is a spiritual record that summons thoughts of 16 Horsepower/Woven Hand had Mr. Edwards leaned more frequently toward the mortal with all it common madness of woes than the Biblical tropes of sin and damnation (fun as those are). It is, in short, that powerful of a record. [get resurrected here]