Philip Marino released his fourth CD, Chasing Ghosts, on July 27th. Marino is an American singer-songwriter who lives in Essex in the UK. In style, perhaps the most appropriate genre would be to describe Chasing Ghosts as Americana. It’s broader than that though and you can hear the influences that Marino listened to in his youth – John Mellencamp, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Bob Dylan – mingled together into some rather lovely songs.
‘The Way It Goes’ opens the album, a delightful bit of guitar work drawing you in and a lyric that keeps you grabbed. It begins “In my life I’ve lost my way…” and without self-pity captures the hopes, though not the reality, of winning in life – “That’s the way it goes”. ‘In My Blood’ is an identity song – what Marino owes to his parents and his former lover and how this shapes “every song I’ve sung”. The band has played on the first two tracks but not until ‘Try’ does the larger sound really hit you. The title track ‘Chasing Ghosts’ would make a good single; an up-beat melody that acknowledge Mellencamp’s influences and a chorus with variants of ”Yeah those ghosts in my head/I hear screams of demons I’ve fed/So we’ll be/Chasing those ghosts till they’re dead”.
‘This Time’ reverts to a gentler style, acoustic guitar to the fore. ‘In Your Hands’ is a neat reflection on time with a former love when she was with him and “had my life in your hands” and again when she left and “held my heart in your hands”.
The album finishes with a couple of strong tracks with the band. ‘The Road Goes Down’ is tense and has a great line – having introduced Johnny with a big dream in a small town Marino sings, “his soul died ounce by ounce”. The almost-final track (there’s also a hidden track, which is a fine song but it takes away from the album’s ending) is ‘No Turning Back’. Of several tracks on the album with great choruses, ‘No Turning Back’ is possibly the best – a great encore song to leave you joining in and singing after a concert/album has finished.
Marino’s previous album was produced by Simone Felice, which tells you how well he is regarded. Chasing Ghosts was co-produced by Marino himself and Adam Bowers at the Boathouse studios in Suffolk. The music industry is changing – being disrupted in modern parlance – and there is some really good stuff being released away from the historical routes of record companies if only it can get a hearing. Chasing Ghosts is one of the albums that’s worth giving a hearing
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‘This Time’ – live at the Boathouse Sessions: