There are countless reasons why we are and will forever be enchanted by the lone singer/songwriter. For one, they always seem to articulate via lyrics and melodies those emotions we all experience but can never quite express on our own, leaving us with a rehashing of memories of love lost and good times spent during our many moments of existential growth. For another, the musicianship of the songs is often humble enough to remind us of how music can come from a very pure and natural place, which inevitably inspires more than a few people to pick up “Guitar for Dummies” on their way home from work in hopes of creating the same undemanding simplicity. Lastly, the talent of the performer at hand becomes undeniable when it’s just the troubadour and a handful of gentle instruments, leaving little room for inconsistency or forged presentation, which gives the audience no choice but to appreciate and admire. Singer/songwriter Megan Reilly sums up all of these reasons in a sweet and soulful collection titled Let Your Ghost Go.
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Reilly follows up on her first album Arc of Tessa with a collection that displays her grasp on solid, lovely songwriting and emotional composition. Crediting Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar/Cat Power) as fans when she began to perform her songs in New York City, Reilly was able to rally together a band of talented performers (including Foljahn on the guitar) for her production. With Steve Goulding (The Mekons), Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), and Eric Morrison (Home) to round out her band, Reilly’s songs are performed with a talent and maturity reminiscent of artists like Sue Garner and even Cat Power. Foljahn’s involvement in Cat Power rings strongly in Reilly’s band, creating a timeless and solid resonance. Like Garner (who personally guided Reilly in the writing of this album), her songs like “Tropic of Cancer,” “Let Your Ghost Go” and “Wedding Song” reflect a self-effacing, indie rock/pop sound with energy and soul. On the other end, “Boy as a Bird,” and “Blackhearted” demonstrate Reilly’s more folksy roots, much like Edith Frost in both vocal and instrumental methods. Also, interestingly enough, Reilly channels the haunting and soothing melodies of Mazzy Star in such songs as “Nighttime,” “Ringing a Bell” and “The Husband,” overall representing the broad scope of her songwriting abilities.
Ultimately, Reilly’s voice is lovely, but rather simple. One is reminded of Frost, Garner, and Hope Sandoval in her vocal stylings, but one also may wonder at the same time where those artists end and Reilly begins. Her singing is silky, pleasant and demonstrates a confidence in her musicianship, but her subsequent musical endeavors could perhaps benefit from more exploration within her vocal range. Her album is full of charming and genuine creations that are enjoyable to listen to; still, one may argue that singer/songwriters need a little something extra in order to truly inspire the masses of music fans who crave the unique designs of imaginative musicians. Having said that, however, it is very clear from the overall beauty of Let Your Ghost Go that Reilly has much more in store to share with a captive audience.
Cat Power – Moon Pix
Edith Frost – Calling Over Time
Sue Garner – Shadyside