13 November 2015

David Gahan & Soul Savers - Angels & Ghosts

Sometimes I live under a rock, or at least that is how it seems to me.  When starting to research this release from Dave Gahan (of Depeche Mode fame) & Soulsavers, I found that it was the second release from the collaborators after "The Light the Dead See" which was released in 2012.  What also made me sort of annoyed for missing this is when I looked at the other artists Soulsavers have worked with - Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk), Gibby Clarke (Butthole Surfers), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age), Richard Hawley & Jason Pierce (Spaceman 3 & Spiritualized) - and I am wondering how the living hell they past me by! Sometimes being a Zappa obsessive can really put the blinkers on you.  As I noted this is the second album together and has been supported by a limited tour as well.  It is interesting to see Mr Gahan has stepped out of his usual musical outlets, as I have no idea what this project will be before I start the album I really have no idea how it is going to sound.  Let’s start this with curious interest.....

“Shine” is a beautiful opening, a gospel/blues/rock number which flows around like a hymn for the listener.  It has a massive hook chorus which the promise of light and grace shining on you and that it is actually there.  This reminds me of a positive version of “Walking in My Shoes”, it sounds as if they are in awe of what can be achieved when we work at it and Dave Gahan sounds like a preacher as Soul Savers bring out their beautiful music.  It is a special opening that does actually shine, sorry for that but I could not think of a better word to describe it.  “You Owe Me” is a love song which gives me the same shiver I got when I first hear “Yes” by McAlmont & Butler – that is one of the best songs ever wrote and this is cut from the same quality cloth.  It is a slow and moody number that find the protagonist back at ground zero and requesting the return of a love who has abandoned them, it is a strong number that moves with a confidence and style that is very rare in music these days.  It is as gentle as a breeze and as hard as a gale at the same time, with an added smooth soul plus another great vocal performance from Mr Gahan and what you have is one of the best track of the album.  “Tempted” is another number that makes the hairs on your neck stand to attention.  The song revolves around the question of who the other person wants you to be, something which is usually a dangerous thing as people should be themselves – but I digress.  It is another slow number that mixes soul, rock, pop and above all of that – quality song writing.  It has a beautiful guitar lick running through the song all the way through, the rest of the band are strong and it all clicks together to create another number that delivers above and beyond any expectations you may have.

“All of This and Nothing” is the fourth song on this album which comes into the world with strings, pounding drums, thumping back and the odd guitar note as the organ comes into play as well.  The song seems to be about offering a loved on all of you, that you can be all that they will ever require in a lover.  It is a sentiment which is often used in pop songs, it is helped by the performance of the band as they drive this number with a fantastic tune that keeps looping in your head as Mr Gahan gives a more restrained performance on this number, letting the band be the focal point of the number and it works to the benefit of the song – it shows a maturity and experience that is once again missing all too often in modern music.  “One Thing” is introduced with a piano and this love song where the protagonist is saying that they only need love and the world can go to hell in a flaming handbag.  It is very gentle on the ear and it well performed (as you come to expect from this album at this point).  Out of all the songs on the album, it is the one which sadly does not quite reach the heights of the others; but it is still a very good number which is a gentle, yet dramatic number that suits this album very well.  “Don’t Cry” is a different kind of dramatic from the opening guitar chord, it is more rock on this number than on any other number on the album as a loved one is being comforted and soothed after they have hit the ground.  It is a slow brooding number, the band sound as tight as they have from the beginning of this album and keeps the album pointing in the right direction.

The final third of this album starts with “Lately” and the strings + piano are being used to introduce the song with Mr Gahan sounding in a more reflective mode as his body is starting to feel the strain of age and there is a wish to escape with a loved one as they escape this existence.  It builds up with grand choruses and gentle verses and comes across a bit like a Nick Cave song and has that gentle quality as well.  It is a beautiful song that finishes with a gentle and poignant finale that underpins this gentle number.  Next we come to the penultimate song of this album called “The Last Time” and your heart is being torn at the seams as this tale of woe is told to some of the most moving music of the album.  It has a great sense of drama which has been abundant throughout this record and you can hear the quality of the record, it moves you in ways that are hard to explain and once heard you are eager to repeat the experience again and again.  If it was not for “You Owe Me”, it would have been the top song of the album.  Ending the album is “My Sun” as a debt is being settled, the score is being evened and things are coming to an end.  It builds up slowly but surely as the song goes along, with that theatrical style that has been the calling card of the music.  It sounds gigantic and you cannot hurry it, it is going to come to you gently and is a perfect way to end this record with a song that could end any film with a perfect note.

If I was to compare this album to any other artist, it would be Nick Cave – it has that feeling to the music and to the vocal delivery – but with that unique style of Dave Gahan thrown in there as well and that is meant as a compliment.  As I stated at the beginning of the review, this is the first of the two collaborations that they have released and I will be looking into getting the first one very soon.  This is a dark gem for this time of year, it is an emotionally raw album which is high on drama and whilst being relatively short it does not leave any wasted space.  Whilst I cannot comment on what other Soulsavers albums (which I will be checking out, really cannot apologise enough for not checking them out before after all the people they have been working with), it is distinctly different to his other works (both solo and with Depeche Mode) and it adds another layer to him as an artist.  Another great outing outside of Depeche Mode for one of its members and an amazing release.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track – You Owe Me

You can purchase Angels & Ghosts from Amazon here

You can visit the Soulsavers website here

You can visit the Dave Gahan website here

You can follow the activities of Dave Gahan on Facebook here (there is no Soulsavers Facebook page)

You can stream Angels & Ghosts on Spotify here

You can stream Angels & Ghosts on Deezer here

You can stream Angels & Ghosts on Tidal here

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