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Restless Ghost
Artist: Ed Englerth

URL: http://www.myspace.com/edenglerth 
Label: Indie (BlueSideDownStudios Recordings)
Time: 13 tracks / 56 minutes
 
Restless Ghost is Ed Englerth’s eighth solo project. Describing his music as ‘moody intelligent folk jazz blues,’ Englerth, visually and conceptually, seems to have stepped right out of the Summer of Love. Everything here is pretty much home-grown, from the songwriting to the art, layout, and even some of the photography on the packaging (on recycled board, of course). If there were a genre called “post-hippie / Christian / ‘blue-like’ jazz,” then this would be it.
 
The strengths of this collection of songs are Englerth’s often creative and always quite impressive guitar playing, and his interaction with his band members: Don Cheeseman on drums and percussion, Bob Hartig on sax and backing vocals, and Alan Dunst on drums and percussion. The guitar playing morphs from underlying rhythmic support to melodic phrases, to flat-out jams throughout the songs, and always supports the sound as a whole. Hartig’s sax takes center stage in several places, providing nice color to the music and supplying a good jazzy feel where such a feeling is called for. 
 
Englerth tends to build songs on hooky musical phrases that ride on top of sophisticated bass lines and smoky-sounding chords, creating an often dreamy sound. Songs like “I Forgot Who I Am” have moments of Jim Morrison-like angst and some very tasty guitar licks whipping around lyrics like, “I remember yesterday / like it’s a million miles away / How’d I end up burning it all down…” while Hartig’s haunting sax wails away on the fade. The whole band seems to find a very comfortable groove on “She Couldn’t Help:” a Dan Hicks-like musical story/song that would feel at home being played in an open lounge somewhere on a tropical beach-front. “Don’t Stand Too Tall,” follows with a heavy surf-band sound featuring a rolling bass line and several tempo changes before ultimately ending as a hard rocking song about being on the run from God. There’s certainly a sense of ‘lostness’ in the lyrics yet there’s also a strong spiritual, God-conscious element as well, as in “Talk to God,”  “After the Garden,” and the aforementioned “Don’t Stand Too Tall.”
 
An interesting project and one worth hearing, Restless Ghost still seems to be in need of better production to make some of the elements spring to life - to transform interesting songs into truly engaging songs. There are tracks that have a lot of potential for a greater dynamic quality, which could even be accomplished by a better mix of what’s already there – simply put, another set of ears and ideas in the final mix could have added the missing X factor to this project to take it to the next level. Englerth might also want to think about trying different vocal approaches to some of the songs, or perhaps even using another lead vocalist to add more color and dynamics to the ‘vocal sound’ of the album.
 
This is clearly a ‘mood’ album with good ideas, good ‘real-room’ musicians and a refreshing indifference to commercial concerns. There’s room for improvement, mostly in the production and vocals, but certainly Mr. Ed Englerth is walking to his own drum-beat and carrying on the hand-made legacy of the classic folk, rock and jazz troubadours that walked that path before him.
 
By Bert Saraco 
http://www.myspace.com/expressimage     
http://expressimagephoto.tripod.com  
 

 

 
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