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.
Going someplace cool this weekend?
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Hickory Tavern Is Now Open!
Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@TheHickoryTav), Instagram (@HickoryTavern), and visit our website for more info. 907 Senate Street in the Vista!
Great Gifts for the Whole Family
Don’t miss Half Moon Outfitters’ holiday sale! Up to 30% off Prana, Patagonia, The North Face, and other great brands. Location and hours here.
New Year’s Eve at Social
Don’t miss this Black and White Affair featuring Kap Slap. Tickets available online!
Ice Skate on Main Street
Columbia’s famously hot skating rink is now open! Additional information and discounts can be found here.
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.
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