Gone like a Ghost

Gabrielle Raymond and Ian Riley release a haunting debut
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  October 10, 2007
insidebeat_annasghost_10120

The sources have it that Gabrielle Raymond, the singing and piano-playing half of Anna’s Ghost, has skipped town. Too bad. Seems as though she and Ian Riley were just getting things started, having released a hauntingly beautiful self-titled EP in early September on the heels of a guest spot on the last Cat & Mouse Records sampler.

Likely, she’ll get the jones to come back to town and play a set or two. If so, you’d be wise to get out and see the duo. With a shuffling, rambling gypsy sort of sound, Anna’s Ghost are original and interesting in the vein of Regina Spektor or the Decemberists, with a rocking Modest Mouse flavor when they feel like it.

The five songs on their EP are often dark, or at least unnerving, with Raymond leading songs like a cross between Feist and Tina Turner. Contrasted with the stark squeak of Riley’s calluses skipping up and down the acoustic guitar’s fretboard on the opening “Limbs Will Grow,” Raymond opens strong, then gets positively electric harmonizing with herself in the tune’s second half.

It’s almost a shame her vocals are distorted in “Blood on Our Hands,” but the production from Frank Hopkins jibes with the song’s mix of melancholy, fear, and regret: “The pit of my stomach tells me to freeze up/And hide in the dark.” “The Businessman” is also dark and brooding, full of found noises and left-hand piano, before it kicks in to a show-tuney narrative about one of those stereotypical money men who just doesn’t feel fulfilled. There’s “no trace of a little kid/Who loves his mother/Wanted so desperately/To be his dad.” You know, in real life, I find most of the rich businessmen I meet are pretty damn happy, really. But that doesn’t make for the best song, I’ll allow.

That darkness, however, is overshadowed by the themes in “Anna,” which seems to trace loosely the diary of Anne Frank. Raymond’s “been starving for weeks/In an attic full of creaking floor boards/A uniform hunts my dreams/and shunts me from my religion.”

Anna’s Ghost have a good feel for organizing their disc, however, and they finish on a high note. “Love (part 1)” shows them at their most versatile. Gabriel accompanies Riley’s electric guitar with a lovely accordion, aping the melody of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” and bending her voice every which way. She may be in a “roach-infested apartment,” but the crescendoing drums and backing vocals in the finish, accented with a pinch of trumpet, make the place seem pretty livable.

Anna’s Ghost | Released by Anna’s Ghost | available at Bull Moose 

On the Web
Anna's Ghost:  www.myspace.com/annasghostband

Related: Portland Music News: May 29, 2009, Portland scene report: September 18, 2008, Portland scene report: July 20, 2007, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Modest Mouse, Tina Turner, The Decemberists,  More more >
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