Sound — 10
The Ghost And The Grace is the folk rock solo project of Daniel Anderson (from the Bellingham electronic post-hardcore band, Idiot Pilot). Getting burnt out from the hardcore scene, Daniel bought a banjo and started working on songs that would eventually form The Ghost And The Grace's debut album "Behold! A Pale Horse." Drawing from a wide array of influences, the sound in "Behold! A Pale Horse" is a bit broad, but ultimately tied together by the folk roots that are spread throughout the album. Of the more straightforward folk tunes, tracks like "Antlion," "Genetics," and "Unfortunately, That's Life" illustrate the basics, and Sufjan Stevens and Bright Eyes influences can be noticed. In addition to the folk roots, another thing that rides throughout the album are the grandiose horn arrangements, reminiscent of artists like Rufus Wainwright (e.g. the opener, "What Have I Done?" is a prime example of this). One thing Anderson manages to do very well is create a sort of folk fusion with many of the tracks. There are the hard rockers (e.g. bluesy "Cloud Of Flies," and Springsteen-esque "A Pretty Good Place To Start"), the 50's doo-wops (e.g. "How Far You Go" and "We Should Get Back Into Books"), and even a post-rock ballad (e.g. "After All". Basically, Anderson proves that you don't have to be confined in your sound and creativity just because you are using a banjo.
Lyrics — 8
Anyone familiar with Idiot Pilot will know that Daniel isn't known for his singing. He is known for his screaming. So it might be with surprise for an Idiot Pilot fan to find him abandoning (for the most part) his trademark scream and actually sing on The Ghost And The Grace. But a very pleasant surprise it is. Anderson proves that despite the harshness he can display, he can also attain beauty with his voice. Lyrically, whereas Idiot Pilot use words with broad meaning, The Ghost And The Grace use sentences with broad meaning. You still have to do a little dissecting to get to the meaning, but the lyrics are a bit more straightforward than those of Idiot Pilot at least. Also, there is a loose theme that runs through the album (which can be hinted at from the album's title) of life, death, and what it is to be human. Visions of the apocalypse, the scientific aspects of love, and the assurance that the house always wins are but a few of the topics covered. Overall, it makes for an interesting listen into the mind of Daniel Anderson.
Overall Impression — 10
All in all, "Behold! A Pale Horse" is an outstanding debut effort. The fact that the album was completely self promoted and completely self released only adds to what makes this a very special record. With an arsenal of some of the most diverse folk sounds around, Daniel Anderson will most definitely be making a name for himself outside of the hardcore scene.