Clive Barnes 'The Ghost Country' Leander

Always a compelling live artist either solo, with additional musicians or playing the role of sideman to others Clive Barnes has continually developed his recorded output. Which has led to The Ghost Country being his most realised album to date. He uses a full band to add additional flesh on the bones of these strong songs. Barnes has a sandpapered voice that has gained depth and resonance over the years and will continue to do so. Though here he is joined by Siobhan O'Brien who adds a balance with here sweet voice. The songs are also testament to his growth as a writer of these tales of blues inflected relationships with people, places and passage between the two. William McGlynn and Dan Hingerty are a bedrock rhythm section who give the songs direction without ever overwhelming the subtle textures of Barnes' ability as a guitarist. Something he enhances here with, on occasion, electric guitar banjitar, dobro and lap steel. There's also a light touch of keyboards on a couple of tracks which add the overall strength of the music on offer. It's also one of those albums that works in context, as a unit of songs, rather than a set of individual songs. It's best listened to as a whole which is out-of-step to how a lot of people listen to music these days. But as a taster listen to Losing where Joe Ryan's pedal steel adds atmosphere to this tale of a request for redemption. The title and mood may also suit a country of ghost estates and cold wind recession but this is music to raise the spirit rather than to drown it from an artist who deserves greater recognition than he often receives.