The idea of working out where we all fit in when it comes to life is a question that everyone asks themselves; everyone has their hang ups and struggles with their identity. When that struggle is put through the microscopic lens of music, it can take many different forms. It can be aggressive, it can be exploratory, it can be accepting. For Kalee Beals, the mastermind behind Ghostwriter, it feels like a journey of discovery.
The debut record under the Ghostwriter name, Burial Grounds brings about an ethereal sense of hope throughout. The album opens with a sample of a man discussing his faith as slow atmospheric guitars play out, perfectly setting up how embracing this album is even before Beals sings a single note. From the first proper track ‘Sister’ Beals’ voice washes over the listener in such a way that it almost puts you at ease, and the repetition of the lyrics of ‘Let It Go’ can be interpreted in a range of different ways, and it feels in a way that this ambiguity is intended. Is the song writer telling you to let go of faith, or let go of whatever it is you are seeking answers for?
Blending together indie and folk sensibilities with guitar experimentation Beals’ approach may come across simplistic at times. However what makes it feel more vast, is the way in which she builds textures, with the use of vocal effects, the introduction of strings and other percussion instruments at various points throughout these songs. It is on ‘Bell, Book and Candle’ where everything seems to come together for Beals, starting with the words “I know I’m not exactly who you wanted me to be”; again a reference to the idea of self-discovery. Here, Beals’ lyrics and vocals seem to have a sense of desperation to them in the pursuit of whatever it is she is seeking.
With religion having a huge source of inspiration on this record it is no surprise the track ‘Devil’ is the first real introduction to heavy distorted guitars. It doesn’t feel out of place however as it helps further narrative along. Much like the introduction, the album closes with a sample of a male voice before Beals brings in her own voice in a very distorted manner as she attempts to bring some semblance of hope to close out the record. In a time when artists like Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle are leading the way in their craft, Kalee Beals will certainly not be far behind. Her beautifully soft voice teamed with wonderful instrumentation makes Ghostwriter an experience that on first listen you will enjoy, on second listen you will want to dig further and by the fifth listen you are fully invested and finding yourself wanting to know the meaning behind every word she is singing. This record is nothing short of breath-taking.
Burial Grounds is released 21st November via Tridroid Records and can be purchased here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck