Sound: Ten years after Everlast hit it big with the single What It's Like, the former House Of Pain rapper has returned with an even more eclectic mix of tracks on Love, War, and the Ghost of Whitey Ford. You'll find elements of everything Everlast (aka Erik Schrody) has experimented with since 1988, namely hip-hop, rock, and a heavy helping of acoustic-driven material. There's nearly an hour's worth of material this time around, and while the diverse musical styles do grab your attention, it's the lyrics that tend to drive the album.
Given that Love, War, and the Ghost of Whitey Ford is Everlast's first album on his independently owned label Martyr Inc Records, you might assume that the artist does flex his creative muscle. That's not far from the truth, particularly considering you get everything from neo-country mixed with hip-hop (the Johnny Cash cover Folsom Prison Blues) to a Middle-Eastern vibe (Letters Home From The Garden Of Stone) to your basic R&B (Die In Your Arms). You definitely need to listen to the album with an open mind because Everlast is obviously not tied to any one genre.
Everlast actually could have taken things further with his experimentation, but he does choose to stay in a relatively safe zone. He includes interesting touches like the sitar (Stone In My Hand), but everything usually comes back to what seems to be his first love, the acoustic. Regardless of how many effects or tracking elements are added to each track, the acoustic is always ever-present in the mix and that makes for a very cool sound.
There are a few tracks in which Everlast does strip things down to the bare bones, with these songs focusing upon his vocals and the acoustic. Because these particular songs don't have any big surprises musically, the lyrical content jumps to the forefront. Ballads like Friend, Stay, and Anyone don't take that many chances in terms of the song structure, but Everlast's straightforward, honest delivery has an appeal all it's own. // 8
Lyrics: Everlast's rap background has stuck with him in terms of generating clever, thought-provoking lyrics. For all of the diversity that you hear in the music, the lyrics deliver tenfold. Among the 16 tracks, you'll get everything from war protest tracks (the very anti-Bush song Kill The Emperor) to the tender Friend, with multiple verses included in every track. There are times when songs do linger on a bit because there is so much lyrical content, but Everlast does come up with some unusual, and often eyebrow-raising lines within the album. // 9
Overall Impression: There's a bluesy feel underlying most every track on Love, War, And The Ghost of Whitey Ford, and in a sense it continues on in the tradition of What It's Like. As was the case in past Everlast albums, the rapping is kept to a bare minimum, and the opening track Kill The Emperor is one of the only times the verses are driven by rap. The album has enough variety that Everlast could very likely appeal to a bigger audience than in the past, and that might also translate into another hit single this time around. // 8