Ghostly Beard: ‘Tell Me’ / Single Review

 
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Ghostly Beard lives in Montreal, Canada. He is an enigmatic logo which sometimes looks like a beard on a face and sometimes looks like a ghost. Nice visual trick, but this trick is also what Ghostly Beard does with his audio. Behind this funny logo however there is a man and his name is Patrick Talbot. Patrick had a long break from music when work and family commitments took him away from his passion but he has re-emerged around 2013, following life’s vicissitudes and disappointments. This enabled him to rekindle the creative flame, writing substantial songs that draw on the later-in-life experiences. Since 2013, he has produced an enormous body of work.

His material is eclectic, from Pink Floyd-inspired long progressive rock tracks to jazz waltz/ballads like the track ‘Blue’a sentimental song about his daughter, via pop tracks, funk tracks, all produced with finesse and packed with strong hooks and beautiful guitar solos. Patrick is a songwriter, producer and guitarist. He has released an EP, Infinite, two albums Invisible and Inward and since then many singles. ‘Tell Me is the latest, released in May 2019.

The lyrics describe some state of desperation although the listener is not sure where the desperation comes from, it could be an existential problem or some impressionistic painting of drug addiction and withdrawals symptoms. We are free to assign meaning to songs and for me this song could also be about the breakdown of a relationship. The protagonist/narrator is asking the estranged partner: ‘what is happening?’, ‘Why do I feel like I am falling apart?’ But the answer is not given, the song remains a question. Clever.

The very ironic thing is that this song is not set in a musically supportive environment! Oh irony! This approach to song writing that Steely Dan used a lot consists in superimposing depressing or sad lyrics over cheerful music and jaunty singing. ‘Tell Me’ works in the same way. We hear the desperate questions repeatedly but they are set in a positive, major, almost anthemic-sounding chorus, while the verses have that 1970s super group vibe, a melodic bass line and guitar tune, occasionally doubling the vocal line, with the keyboard stating the pulse. I hear that chorus and easily imagine (with a bittersweet grin on my face) a crowd at a festival, dancing arms above their heads, singing along ‘Now tell me what’s knocking me down’…

Ghostly Beard says that production is the best part of music and this is very apparent when you listen to ‘Tell Me’. I love the way he crafts the instrumentation in layers to build the song up to his guitar solo, always a feature to look forward to in a Ghostly Beard track. I also love how it drops then progressively builds up in the section after the guitar solo, from sparse to very full, a bit reminiscent of something The Who would do. So here is another track celebrating different styles of popular music and a song you will want to listen to again, straight after first listening.

 

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Written by Fabrizio Vincente