Take These Ghosts
by VAL REGAN composer, musician and community choir leader.
With Ghosts, 3 Bucket Jones have accomplished something very special.
There is an enchanting feel to the sound of this album. You are lead on a journey, deep into a landscape that feels familiar and at the same time magical and a little unsettling. It has the quality of a rite of passage, full of the joys and sorrows of life.
Ghosts is symphonic and expansive yet intimate; inventive and richly layered yet not fussy; complex but accessible and direct. Musically it bathes you in different shades and textures, intricate instrumental details which are beautifully placed and beautifully blended to create its own unique sound.
At times it is psychedelic, then plangent and wistful and then the deep yearning nostalgia of a brass band reaches right for your soul. There are moments when you hold your breath and moments of pure pop and yet there is a wholeness to it all.
The lyrics reveal their stories in shards and glimpses, economic lines that hint at sadness, defiance, acceptance and love.
“Daylight breaks, can’t forget, music makes us whole again”
The songs stand alone but feel like episodes in the longer story of the album. And this is definitely an album, not just a collection of songs.
The arrangements and production are brimming with ideas and influences but the album never loses its thread or sense of purpose. There is an integrity to it, almost as if it were conceived and created in one sitting, which is how I listened to it. I recommend that you do too, you will feel different when you emerge on the other side. It is a transport of delights.
TAKE THESE GHOSTS
by TOM BOLTON author of The Vanished City and member of the Tubthumping Chorus.
Recorded in the depths of the Monmouthshire hills, the second album by trio 3 Bucket Jones is shaped by the landscape of the Welsh borders. It reflects both the dark, uncanny aspects of the hills and valleys, and the beauty to be discovered in unexplored territory.
The title track features singer Gitika Partington’s melancholy incantations to “take these ghosts away”, while the music is haunted by whispering backing vocals and a spooky melotron. ‘Amazing Grace’ is reconfigured and reimagined, with new verses relocated to a landscape of rain and chapels. Circles of hands link the living and the dead, and the familiar hymn becomes a strange, gothic invocation. ‘You Love Me More’ is a stark, Nick Cave-esque ballad, featuring the muted brass of the Tredegar Town Band.
Melancholy washes over the first half of the album, with ‘Love Called You Home’ a gentle but sinister, and ‘Gravity’ struggling against the forces of nature: “Doesn’t help me / That I fall down”. The mood shifts with ‘Anchorman’, a rollicking blues song, with bluegrass harmonies and serious momentum. It also has a vocoder bit, a guitar pretending to be a banjo, some and a final electric guitar wig-out.
The second half of the album takes a more upbeat turn. ‘Draw a Line in the Sand’ is about new beginnings, and Gitika’s voice floats over a psychedelic swirl of acoustic guitar and mellotron. ‘Colouring by Numbers’ has the gentlest of harmonies and a shuffling bass. There are hints of 1990s acid jazz bands such as United Future Organization, extra deep grooves combined with alternative manifestos for living. Final track ‘One Day Soon’ has gorgeous keyboards, reincarnated from The Small Faces, and is full of optimism and summery sounds.
Take These Ghosts has it all covered. Andie McCrorie-Shand’s guitars,hurdy gurdy, piano and mellotron give the album texture and variety, and Garry Hughes uses his subtle synth and sound design talents to take things to another level. The band write heart-on-sleeves, and their musical variety takes them on from dark folk to delicate, shimmering sounds. Strong vocals and inventive instrumentation make this absorbing, multi-layered – a real pleasure for listeners. This is an album full of top quality songwriting.