Ghostpoet has been getting the full-time hype machine treatment recently. It’s interesting to me how quickly boots get filled in the wonderful yet fickle music scene. Many journos are comparing Ghostpoet to fellow Londoner and equally off-key Roots Manuva. Who was compared to Tricky before him and so on and so on. I guess the press need to compare everything to something right? Before we get into the nitty gritty, maybe it would be helpful to set the scene. Who is Ghostpoet and where has he come from so suddenly? Currently based in London, Ghostpoet hails from the UK city Coventry, with family roots stretching back to Nigeria and Dominica. The well-spoken 24-year-old artist won over Brownswood head honcho Giles Peterson a while back with songs from his four track demo, The Sound Of Strangers. The guy basically hasn’t looked back since, signing with Brownswood and producing his debut album, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam.
So how good is the album? On first listen I have to say that I was slightly disappointed. Ghostpoet’s laid-back style is borderline lazy on a few tracks. Like really slapdash and careless. But at the same time there’s something really endearing about the album. Something that kept me going back for one more listen. Something that made me want to tell other people about it. I think I was expecting something straightforward. Simple and easy to digest. This debut is none of those things. His personal lyrics about his life and times, goals and disappointments give the listener the feeling of reading a stranger’s diary. Sometimes the honesty felt difficult to process.
That said, Ghostpoet has the ability to switch from melancholy to upbeat from one track to another. The best example of this is the musical mood swing from the down-tempo “Survive It” and the upbeat Friday night anthem, “I Just Don’t Know”. As he says in the opening line: “I ain’t coming here trying to change your life..you can do it by yourself if you chose to.” And that kind of breaks down this album’s ethos in my opinion. Ghostpoet is giving a glimpse into his day-to-day. It just so happens that sometimes he slurs, other times he’s so clear it’s almost painful to hear the clarity and reality.
One thing that is refreshing about this album is that the beats are so diverse. Some are very guitar driven and chaotic while others flow and fall like Ghost’s naturally uncomfortable cadence. Take his track “Longing For The Night” as an example. The beat is pretty simple in a great way, relaxed and yet perfect with its syncopated rhythm. More often than not Ghostpoet flows well, with interesting content. For me the stand out track on the album was “Us Against Whatever Ever”. This is the favorite sound for me. Stripped down garage, rave-y vibes. Ghost spits far more cryptic lyrics on this track and it features great playful wordplay like, “I love you like biscuits and lemonade”. It’s the one-liners like these with Ghostpoet’s slurred vocals that serve as a constant reminder that this is UK product, which, I should add, is another thing I like about the album.
So in summary, I think this is a good album. Both musically and lyrically diverse and experimental. Ghostpoet seems to be the latest love for the music writers. So the skeptic in me wants to find fault with both them and him. But after a few listens to Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam I can understand the slight love affair. It’s not always great, but it’s generally always interesting. The bottom line is don’t believe the hype! Check for yourself and see.