Scott Kelly - The Forgiven Ghost In Me
Taken from a stricly foundational standpoint, Neurosis frontman Scott Kelly's previous solo record, The Wake, held a signifigant amount of promise. An incredibly profound man, his words and his acoustic guitar have all been aspects of archetypical folk masterpieces over the years. Given Scott's nature as a metal musician, expectations were skewed somewhat. You get touches of Neurosis but that isn't the point; what you really get is a completely uninhibited glimpse at a man's soul. While The Wake left very little of an impression on me beyond the poetic verses (musically, I felt it to be a bit barren and in need of filling out by a backing band), I knew full well that his next project would be worth the time. The Forgiven Ghost In Me offers the immediate promise of filling up that somewhat lonely sound picture of the prior album, featuring several guest musicians, including Neurosis bandmates.
It does not surprise me, after several listens, to see that the bread and butter of Scott's newest solo record is...Scott. It's the whole point behind the project, of course. That it didn't quite work for me the last time 'round factors somewhat into why it doesn't quite work for me now, but I will say that the added musicians do fill the time better, leaving a handful of outstanding tracks, spaced out by a few duds. "A Spirit Redeemed To The Sun" is a pictaresque introduction, a feat of emotional expression fueled by a simple, classic country acoustic strum. The title track follows this and offers a more bleak atmosphere, but is not without it's saving grace aesthetic, a theme to the album made obvious by it's title. From here, the tracks are a mixed bag to me, with "In The Waking Hours" and "Within It Blood" dragging on without having much to say. "We Let The Hell Come" builds into a rather satisfying climax, justifying it's 6+ minutes more so than the other longer arrangements present. "The Field That Surrounds Me" is a tease in the sense that, as the only track to feature a full backing band, leads me to wonder what a full album of this rich and rewarding metallic folk might offer.
A definite improvement over The Wake, but still not entirely enough to satisfy me, The Forgiven Ghost In Me has too many merits to simply cast off. Scott's bared soul is a fascinating aspect of his music, always has been. This, coupled with the highlights of songwriting across the album, make for a compelling listen. It's just not an album I would find myself reaching for again, because as much as certain tracks leave an impact, there are the others that have me reaching for the skip button. But, I can't imagine not recommending this album to lovers of pensive acoustic folk, Neurosis junkies who need every little taste of it they can get, or anyone who finds Scott Kelly to be a compelling individual. Because he must certainly is that.
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