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Ghost Folk

Allysen Callery

Released October 30, 2020

Photo: Kevin Bowden / Design: Florian Grass
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Ghost Folk is a beautiful new album by the number one self-made woman of American singer songwriter folk – Allysen Callery. And it is New England through and through.

Her ninth album in sixteen years (counting the bootlegs) invites us to share the solitude of her writing chambers. Haunting songs lure us into the remoteness of New England, where the Old World meets the New – where myth meets pragmatism. Callery portraits restless ghosts of everyday, some are passersby, and some seem well acquainted regulars. Ghost Folk is not gothic in mode, no collection of murder ballads. The album is eerie through stark simplicity and naked honesty, veiled only by the association the title evokes and by the beautifully arranged soundscapes. Callery meets us up front and yet detached. Her matter of factness contrasts with her surrealism, portraying a world entirely her own.

Unlike most artists of the current folk scene exploring all sorts of Americana, Allysen Callery draws heavily on the British folk revival of the 60s. Her picking style is Anglo-Celtic and rarely influenced by the blues. She is a master finger picker. In her voice you may hear Sandy Denny’s hurt or the purity of Shirley Collins, however, Allysen is her own woman, with her own approach – well equipped with a healthy do-it-yourself approach coming directly from punk.

Ghost Folk is purely modern and only plays with tradition, its themes and motifs – it is never conservative. Callery’s stylistic backwards glance is part of her mysterious continuum of self-reflection and observance – her own little twilight zone. It is all well situated between the eternal lament of the traditional ballad Katie Cruel and November Man, an ode to the uncrowned king of the hidden, Nick Drake. It’s a world of cigarettes, sin and somnambulism – and sweet-bitter hope.

Ghost Folk is a beautiful mind map to help you come to terms with your ghosts – called and uncalled. May Our Lady of the Highway guide you.

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