L.R. Marsh’s debut solo offering The Ghosts Of is music to enjoy with late night a whiskey by the fire or to see you through a lazy Sunday afternoon. Usually found fronting Adelaide riff-rock duo, Filthy Lucre, Marsh has traded his electric guitars, amplifiers and distortion pedals for acoustic guitars and a gentler pace. And it really works.
The resulting album demonstrates his versatility and skill as a crafter of carefully layered songs. The material develops around ruminating guitar work with mostly unadorned arrangements that build through purposeful creation. The songs remain in phlegmatic unplugged style throughout, while drawing on familiar blues, roots, folk and country influences that make this a pleasurable listen.
Opener ‘Home’ is indicative of many of the tracks, lulling us with the hypnotic vibe of its circular acoustic progression to then lift us with some sweet harmonies mid-song before bringing us back to the honesty of Marsh’s guitar to conclude.
As the album progresses, we go deeper into Americana with the atmospheric slide guitar of ‘Brokebottle Blues’ and then delving more fully into alt-country landscapes with ‘Wild Horse’, complete with lyrics referencing cowboys and horses.
With a touch of the mid-nineties grunge ballad, ‘Just Another Day’ takes off in a slightly different direction, returning then to the bluegrass warmth of ‘Reflection’.
‘Desert Sun’ is perhaps the standout track in the collection. Keeping us at a distance with a broken microphone effect at the start, the song opens up to a wide vista of bigger sounds of lush backing vocals and one of the few conventional guitar solos on the album. The lyrics complement this soundtrack, evoking the parched, drought-affected Australian landscape.
One thing that really stands out across the LP is its production values, with a real warmth to the recordings that renders the songs immediately engaging. It sounds just as great through headphones as it does when played loud on the stereo.
Marsh is an accomplished guitarist who shows us over the course of the album that he can really cut through without the tricks of playing with myriad effects out the front of an ensemble. He also possesses an likeable voice that feels just weathered enough to really suit the style he explores in The Ghosts Of.
So pour yourself a glass and get listening.
L.R. Marsh plays Jive on Saturday 23rd November to launch the album, with tickets available here.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor