As with his previous release, Mike Grogan’s third album, Too Many Ghosts, takes a conceptual approach, a reflection on things past but with an optimistic outlook on things to come, an encouragement to move beyond superficial, here and now satisfaction, and to do the right thing.
Although the Portsmouth-based singer-songwriter has a punk background (lead singer with The Untouchables) and fronted a Springsteen-inspired seven-piece in the 80s, these days Mike Grogan’s far more of a folk persuasion, the songs shaded with blues influences and Celtic atmospheres. Case in point is the opening positivity statement Show Them What Love Can Do, one of the several tracks to feature Phil Beer, here on acoustic guitar and violin. Beer’s not the only familiar name, with contributions also provided by veteran keyboards player John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick, bass player and composer James Eller (The The) and, on three numbers, backing vocals by Miranda Sykes.
Their first appearances come with the equally moody Let Me Feel The Rain, a song about opening yourself up to whatever comes, burnished by Joseph O’Keefe’s violin, and, with Beer on mandolin, the following title track with its slow waltzing chorus and a lyric about not being trapped by the past. Watch the video below:
O’Keefe returns, adding piano to his violin parts, for The Way, a folksy ‘finding salvation’ anthemic number that draws on the massed voices of the Green Man Folk Club, Alton, for the choral backing. Further trad folk influences can be heard on the fuller arrangement of Big Ships, a tribute to the navy vessels of old that, in times of conflict, kept the seas safe.
Evocative of Van Morrison, the simple piano-backed I Wish You is another hope for the future. While Hallelujah muses on the life beyond and, featuring swelling violin and churchy organ from Bundrick, Underground is a gently melodic call that draws on mining imagery for a song about joining to dig our way to freedom in times of darkness.
The album closes on two further upbeat notes. With Beer on mandolin and violin, Heaven Is Here is jaunty old school folk rock. While, featuring Chris Hoban on accordion and tinkling piano notes by O’Keefe, Goodnight is a waltzing benediction, summing up the overall thematic thread in the lines “may you strive and make good and leave love in your wake.” The message, like the music, is simple, direct and clear. And both all the more effective for it.
Recorded and Produced by Devon-based Mark Tucker (Show of Hands: Wake the Union / Long Way Home), Too Many Ghosts is released on February 10th via Poacher Records.
For the latest tour details visit: www.mikegrogan.co.uk