Miles Maxwell recently dropped their debut album, called Red Ghost, a title referring to watching that “girl become a ghost.” The story behind the album goes like this: Singer/guitarist Miles Baltrusaitis fell for someone outside of marriage, suffered a broken heart and the pain that goes with it. His response was to start writing music for the first time in almost a decade.
Nine songs later, he needed a band to play them. After a chance encounter, he recruited drummer Matt Stankiewicz, keyboardist Dan Stankiewicz, and bassist Steve Kingwell. The band’s sound encompasses a wide range of influences, including Steve Goodman and Harry Chapin, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, and Steely Dan. In other words, folk-pop, alt-country, Americana, and jazz-rock.
Of the nine tracks on the album, all are worthwhile. However, a few stand above the others for purely subjective reasons. “Something New” is an upbeat alt-country number with a rollicking rhythm and lots of harmonic pizzazz.
Maybe my favorite track on the album is the instrumental number called “Jenever (in Acquia).” The music exudes a delightful Celtic/country-hoedown flavor, as well as hints of bluegrass seeping forth. It’s optimistic, buoyant, and melodic.
“Terrible Song” is a mid-tempo pop number with rock filaments running through it. The Dave Matthews-like hook makes the song contagious. The lyrics to “Terrible Song” are distinctive and wryly amusing:
“And it’s terrible / Living this life without you / Incomparable / Is the pain now that you’re gone / And I’m despairable / So bad that I’ve been making up words / Like despairable since I lost you.”
The closing song on the album, “Red Ghost,” a balladic piece oozing deep, bluesy flavors and potent melancholy, emanates profound emotions. The dirge-like braying of the organ infuses the tune with despondency and aching colors.
“Red Ghost” reflects tantalizing wisps of nostalgic recollection and the palpable cheerless power of heartache, along with ironic observations on the absurdity of love and life. I recommend it to you.
Listen to Red Ghost by Miles Maxwell via Bandcamp.