ELLIOTT BROOD – Ghost Gardens (Paper Bag Paper114)

Ghost GardensNot an individual artist, but the collective name of an Ontario trio who play fizzed up roots Americana with a poppy edge, Ghost Gardens is their sixth album but the songs themselves come from a stash of lost demos recorded some fifteen years ago, now revisited with a new lick of paint, the title nodding to how gardens live on long after those who created them have gone.

As you might expect, having been sketches of ideas, the songs offer up a diversity of moods and styles, opening with jaunty leg-slapping, banjo strumming bluegrassy goodtime stomp ‘‘Til The Sun Comes Up Again’ and then sliding into the handclapping driven ‘Dig A Little Hole’, an equally mandolin bouncing skiffler about assorted family members (a moonshiner, his alcoholic suicide widow and girlfriend murderer son) coming to unfortunate ends and all being buried in a hillside cemetery.

By contrast, ‘’ borrows rather obviously from The Clash’s ‘London’s Calling’, the sparse mandolin-accompanied wearied ‘For The Girl’ tips the hat to early solo Paul McCartney, ‘Thin Air’ is a sort of old wind up musical box brief instrumental while ‘Gentle Temper’ marries Ryan Adams with Bookends-era S&G and, featuring banjo and what sounds like vibes, ‘The Widower’ is a dreamy croon that harks to the heady sunshine 60s pop days of The Association and Harper’s Bizarre . Three tracks barely make it to the 90 seconds mark, and one of those is the backward tapes feedback and crackling static effects of ‘Searching’, but there are some fine blooms here, not least the gorgeous huskily sung, ‘Adeline’, a lullabying waltzer to, I assume, singer Mark Sasso’s daughter. Cultivate their acquaintance.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website: www.elliottbrood.com

‘Dig A Little Hole’ – official video: