Grand Ghosts

Kasey Johansing

Independent release, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Here's someone that didn't go the expected route. San Francisco's Kacey Johansing cut her teeth with the indie outfits Geographer, Tune-Yards and Yesway, but here turns her music instead toward a more classical, lounge-influenced direction, steering her sultry, smoky voice into ethereal and often experimental waters on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Grand Ghosts. A darker-themed album than her debut, this sophomore release sorts through the recent passing of loved ones via a reflective, chilling tone.

As her stories dissect the tougher moments of life, Johansing's music also instills a sense of hope through a very intimate and forthright delivery. Her songs have a level of sincerity that makes it seem as if she's singing directly for your ears, and it's of little doubt that the melancholy expressed in these tracks was experienced firsthand.

The instrumentation here is primarily laid back and emotionally stirring, yet really does rely on the singing to carry the album. While some moments are musically repetitive, the urgency of the words allows the songs to radiate. “Honey” and "Pinecone" are two exceptions, the latter finding a boost of liveliness with radiant drumming and splendid guitar riffs, and former containing a subtle jazz playfulness. "Only The Heart" is another musical highpoint, again with jazzy undertones and hazier guitars than the rest of the bunch. The remainder of the tracks employ vibraphones, glockenspiels and pianos to create soothing landscapes that are sometimes a footnote behind Johansing's soulful and compelling voice.

Described by Johansing as a combination of jazz, folk, pop and classical, Grand Ghosts embodies all those ideas on a vocally strong album with very well-thought out lyrics. It's a listen that will bring you back to simpler times, as the songs possess a timelessness akin to classical music. If this album doesn't immediately grab you, listen to the haunting, piano-driven "Grand Ghosts" a couple of times and move on from there.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.