There’s an ease to The Ghost That Was, a sort of comfortable tonal fluidity that suggests the five dudes in Shallow Palace — among them drummer and regular Free Times contributor Michael Spawn — simply set up their gear, hit record and ripped through the record’s nine tunes in just a few takes. The tones stay static. So, too, does the mix: Guitars are almost always at the forefront; organs and pianos swell in the quieter passages; voices, sometimes harmonizing, float just above the din. It’s somewhat akin to listening to a soundboard recording of a live performance — which, given the band’s combustible energy, works in Ghost’s favor.
But while the album presents an interesting sonic continuity, its song selection suggests split personalities. Shallow Palace has always been a hydra-headed outfit, with multiple songwriting voices that cover a melange of styles and subgenres. Diversity marked the band’s first full-length, The Vig, and it marks Ghost, too: “Point of You” and “No Lip” are sweltering, swaggering Southern rockers; “Swindler” and “One of Us” are dramatic and operatic piano-driven classic rock cuts; “Zombie Love Song” and “Singularity” are derived from overcast British bombasticism.
This variegation is both a strength and a weakness for Shallow Palace. Operating in so many guises — often in the course of a single song — does keep things interesting. And the band’s versatility is remarkable, especially in an era marked by rigid subgenrefication. But by spreading itself so thin, Shallow Palace becomes a jack of many trades but a master of none. Ghost, as a result, is a pleasant and occasionally engaging listen, but not an essential one.
This Week @ Social
Edward Shouse performs Friday the 21st, and on Saturday Absolut Vodka presents A Night in Sweden, with specialty Absolut drinks and live music by Christian Slick. Follow us!
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage offers 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
A Re-Imagined Christmas Carol at Trustus
Watch as five actors perform all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score in a production that had audiences and critics raving last year. Get your tickets here!
Now Hiring in the Vista!
Hickory Tavern is opening mid-December and looking for bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff. Apply in person: Click for details!
Surreal Innovation Salon Now Open
Columbia’s newest total care spa is now taking appointments and offering $10 off services $25 or more for first time clients. Location, hours, and more info here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season: