Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reviews:: Scott Orr Ghost Party

When I talked about Scott Orr’s last releaseMiles From Today – I made a casual mention that on Wondergirl, Orr’s self doubt made you wonder if he thought even his best would eventually fall short. At the time, it was specific to that song, but after listening to Ghost Party (which you can download for free right here), it’s also a fitting metaphor for his song writing.

Listening to that record now, it feels like Orr put everything he had into perfecting the songs, worried that any note that wasn’t pitch perfect would be an admission that his music wasn’t worth your time. MFT was a collection of crisp, well thought out representations of Orr’s emotions tinkered with until they were as perfect Orr could make them. Ghost Party, on the other hand, shows Orr removing any of the unnecessary polish from the songs.

He retreated to the unforgiving confines of an empty basement and instead of hours spent striving obsessing over the countless textures and recordings, Orr simply releases the songs and lets them breath. Too many song writers fiddle with hooks and harmonies, forgetting that when you sit alone with a guitar, the most important thing you can have is a connection.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Orr’s efforts are second rate or any less impactful that his previous efforts; quite the opposite in fact. The more honest feel helps Orr more than he probably expected. Opening with In Between, Orr sounds like an old school Bright Eyes, letting the gentle chimes compliment a simple picked riff and his vocals. He doesn't over complicate the matter, and when he slowly adding a plucked bass, harmonies and hand percussion, the effort seems more like a spontaneous jam than an over thought bedroom odyssey. You start to relate to his words and sink into the song, and after only a few short moments, you are hooked into the album.

Ghost Party really takes advantage of the environment in which it was written. The echoing drums of Snowstorm add some isolation and desperation to Orr's words and when Orr breaks into Josh Ritter-ish melody of Danger, the drums, keys and mandolin bouncing around the empty room help make the track inspiring. You want to keep listening and you want to sing along. Ghost Party also uses a breezy feel at just the right moments to help keep the listener engaged. Caught in My Dreams acts like a gentle gust, helping the record float along. The same can be said about the gentle sway of Shine a Light.

All in all, Orr taking a step back on production has shown that his song writing is stronger and more accessible. Nothing on Ghost Party will blow your mind, but all the songs are ear pleasing and you won't find a track you need to skip. For the low low price of free.99, fans of Conor, Josh Ritter and even Sam Beam might find something to hold onto with Ghost Party. Not bad for this little known Hamiltonian.

MP3:: Scott Orr - Danger

MP3:: Scott Orr - Snowstorm

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Posted at 1:00 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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