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CHERRY GHOST Thirst For Romance EMI (2007)

Cherry Ghost

The Times would have you believe this is a 5 star album and quite possibly the debut album of the year. That's praise indeed. So, just who is Cherry Ghost?

Well it turns out he's songwriter Simon Aldred from that northern metropolis that goes by the name of Bolton. And while he's lived there all his life he sees it as a somewhat insular and depressing town, but nevertheless inspiring. It's a love/hate relationship.

The name Cherry Ghost - far more marketable - is taken from a line in a Wilco song which gives an immediate hint to the flavour of the songwriting here, which is firmly in indie tinged Amerciana field.

And it is indeed an excellent debut. Not only is the songwriting, strong, gritty and with two feet firmly on the ground - who else would write an 8 and a half minute epic about a woman who's been married tow or three times, lived a bit, and is about to get married again but is still as positive and vibrant about life as she ever was? It happens, and not only in northern towns, so there's reference points for us all.

And he's a man who's paid his dues in a succession of bands, bizarrely only being signed after playing an unannounced solo gig in Glasgow.

Recorded in Wirral (home of the re-emerging The Coral) with occasional help from Jimi Goodwin of The Doves and underground Scouse legend Edgar Jones, the album took 12 weeks to record, and it was time well spent.

Opening with a church organ and acoustic the title track sparkles like a jaunty gem with Aldred's scratchy vocals the perfect complement. 4am swiftly follows - infectious alt country with a wonderfully melancholy hook. Mountain Bird throws in a The Coral/The Zutons chunky beat, some great guitar work and passionate vocals, while People Help The People is a big piano led pop/rock ballad somewhere between All About The Boy and The Verve.

And so it goes. Roses is a song Neil Young would be proud of, Dead Man's Shoes a sweeping requiem over a marching beat. False Alarm a folky song of longing and loneliness, while Alfred The Great pure pop. Here Comes The Romans, rock and roll, almost Mott The Hoople style.

Then there's the rollercoaster of Mary On The Mend reflecting the ups and downs of life and finally the album concludes with the with the wonderful Mathematics - the song that clinched the recording deal.

So, 5 stars? Debut album of the year? Well, it's an album that comes across as honest, heartfelt and unpretentious. Which is a big ask these days. And it has the unusual ability to appeal to both Radio 1 and 2 audiences. So remember the name. Cherry Ghost is going to be big.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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