Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers have created a wonderful mix of Americana music with their second album A Bucketful of Ghosts. The title was taken from a John Steinbeck passage and is the perfect definition of what the album is: the all-American life struggle. The album combines the restlessness of Bob Dylan with the harmonies and lexicon of Jon Denver. A Bucketful of Ghosts is an honest album with an everyday-man feel.
The opening track “My Autumn Sky” is the harbinger of what the whole album contains: strong guitar arrangements, interesting lyrics, and a clear direction. It is by far the best track of the album. Also notable was “Fishing in the Rain.” While the track is a simple combination of vocals, guitar, and bass, the song is a throwback to that classic Woodstock/Folk arrangement.
The only song that didn’t feel connected to the rest if the album was “I Got A Loneliness.” The track has vocal harmonies that don’t sound right and the counting in opening doesn’t fit the rest of the album. Lyrically, the song was more lighthearted than the rest of the album, it revolves drinking and gallivanting. It is the shortest of the album and it feels like the band rushed through the song. The album would have sounded the same, if not better, if the track wasn’t included.
Although the guitar is featured in all the songs, the most interesting part was the inclusion of the violins. They add pain in songs like the bridge of “Lafayette Blvd” and “From the River,” but also movement and excitement in a song like “Dreamin’.” The violin creates an aimless drifting to the songs. The inclusion of instruments of all the songs fits where they were placed. The album was not overproduced to death.
On a whole the album has a dark, pessimistic theme, but there is something in the lyrics that leaves you thinking introspectively about your own life. A song like “Daddy’s Suit” makes you question your own relationship with your father, while the stories from “Lafayette Bird” made me wonder what happens behind my own neighbors’ closed doors. Lyrically and vocally the album takes influence from the early Bob Dylan-era. Although there are no references of social unrest or political undertones, the album follows the folk storytelling of the 60s.