Album: Ghost by Radical Face
Released: March 1st, 2007
Radical Face is the stage name of musician Ben Cooper who released his first official studio album in 2007. His music is noted for the use of acoustic guitar, soft and layered vocals, and storytelling within the lyrics. He has released four studio albums, all of which carry concepts within their songs and the last three are part of a single story called The Family Tree. An independent artist, Radical Face primarily tours outside of the United States due to the popularity of his music in the rest of the world; however, he does play some isolated shows and went on a more extensive North American tour in 2013. His most recent work has been on a film score, another full-length record, and a series of EPs.
The Story and the Songs:
The first song, “Asleep On a Train,” introduces the album with sporadic piano heard in the background that slowly crescendos with what sounds like an accordion and the sound of creaking wood. Cooper hums in a soothing melody in conjunction with the aforementioned ambiance before leading into the most well known song off the album, “Welcome Home.” With a rush of wind and the tingling of wind chimes, “Welcome Home” picks up the pace with soft clapping and an upbeat acoustic guitar part before blasting into a glorious chorus consisting of only two words. “Let the River In” begins with the sound of laughter and the echoing voices of children that segue into a meandering waltz featuring more instrumentation in the form of violins and percussion. “Glory” whistles above the sound of marching feet, creating a mental picture of parading soldiers over a piano that is just slightly out of tune. This more upbeat tempo gives way to the ethereal chimes of “The Strangest Things” which builds into a percussion heavy verse. This song deals in the paranormal with crows cawing during the quiet interludes and Cooper’s layered vocal parts.
“Wrapped in Piano Strings” is a bit more upbeat with its busy guitar part despite its macabre subject matter. The creaks of a settling house, alongside a slow piano part, bring a calming element to “Along the Road.” “Haunted” brings ghosts back into the fore with the sound of an old piano underneath spooky strings. “Winter is Coming” makes another change in pace with more urgent string plucking and a story about the season of Summer being kidnapped and held in a basement; a constant kick drum maintains the momentum of the tempo. “Sleepwalking” sways along at its slumbering pace and features an electric guitar melody during a quiet moment of the song. The final song on the album, “Homesick” is softer than the rest of the album and sounds as if it were being played through a phonograph or from a distance. The simple chord progression, the sound of dishes being put away in the background, and the sound of cars driving by bring about an image of a hitchhiker reminiscing about home; the tone of the album is summed up best by the melancholy saunter of this track.
Though considered a concept album, Ghost doesn’t have an explicitly set out story. The inspiration came from the idea of a house having memories of its previous tenants and the events of their lives; it is like a collection of short stories from the perspective of these sentient abodes. Radical Face makes heavy use of poetic lyrics and vocal harmonies to create an airy feel to these songs. Each song is unique in its own way, but strong melody, rhythm, and consistent themes carry throughout the album. An incredible debut, Ghost is a gem from the world of independent music and creates a unifying feel in its somber sincerity.
Please enjoy some song recommendations, a song from the album, and check out the band’s social media accounts below!
Song recommendations: “Welcome Home” , “Wrapped in Piano Strings” , “Homesick”