Dave Gahan & Soulsavers - Angels & Ghosts - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers - Angels & Ghosts

by Blaire Lund Rating:7 Release Date:2015-10-27

Soulsavers’ latest album, Angels & Ghosts, officially billed as Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, is an affair much like their previous work. The album is their second collaboration with Dave Gahan, primarily known as the vocalist of Depeche Mode. He was the main singer on Soulsavers’ previous album, 2012’s The Light the Dead See, after they had worked with a number of great collaborators on previous albums, including Mark Lanegan, Will Oldham, and Mike Patton.  

On Angels & Ghosts, you can hear more of their brand of modern-day gospel, featuring lush, full arrangements, soulful undertones and cinematic, full-scale drama. They combine traditional gospel elements such as the organ and piano with rock elements in the form of distorted electric guitars. The songs are topped off by fitting orchestral arrangements and soulful choir singers providing background vocals, rounding out their sound and giving it a sense of enormity.

The band lives up to their name, as their atmospheric album conjures up images of the angels and ghosts mentioned in the title. The songs are peppered with hints of religious themes and the concept of spirituality is explored.

Opener ‘Shine’ is an uplifting song equally inspired by gospel music as it is with the blues. In it Gahan implores listeners to, “look around” and realize, “it’s so profound what we can do.” The fun, bluesy bass line is the backbone of this song. ‘Shine’ is possibly the strongest track on the album, setting its moving tone. ‘You Owe Me’ is another strong ballad, featuring a sweeping orchestral arrangement which gives the track its weight.

Single ‘All of This and Nothing’ is a song that builds, one instrument adding after another until it swells. During the song the speaker assumes the form of many things, including the “dirt beneath your feet” and “the sun that rises while you’re sleeping”. There is a foreboding picture painted with images of a storm setting, black water that is too high and a ghost outside the window. All of the dark imagery does not overpower the hope that is imbued in this track.

There are many slow-paced ballads on the album that tend to get repetitive with both sound and lyrical content. ‘Tempted’ is a song in which the speaker relents, “I can’t be what you want me to be, angel”. ‘One Thing’ is a quiet piano ballad where Gahan repeats, “you just need one thing: love”. This otherwise sentimental song is broken up with a line about watching “tasteless shows” on TV, one of the only lyrics that seem to break away from the otherworldly, heaven-oriented aura that the album gives off and brings it back to this less celestial one. ‘Don’t Cry’ is musically a bit heavier and features some ghostly guitars, which amp up during the chorus. The lyrics, however, are similar as the speaker implores to his love, “don’t cry”. ‘Lately’ has the added touch of strings to this otherwise gentle piano ballad. The chorus of “sail with me” is the greatest, most uplifting part of the song.

‘The Last Time’ features watery-sounding guitars that emit the aura of walking around a ghost town. The semi-religious aspect comes into the lyrics when he questions, “have you ever followed Jesus?/he lives downtown L.A./he’s coming, he’ll be here/it’s where he prays”. Closing song ‘My Sun’ is a dramatic song in which the tension builds. It ends this album of promise and shadows in a hopeful place.

Overall, Angels & Ghosts is a well-arranged, full-fleshed out modern gospel album that is incredibly uplifting. At points, though, the lyrics seem to get repetitive. Also, although all the songs are good on their own, there are a few too many slow songs set in a row, which halts the pace of the album during the middle. Still, Angels & Ghosts is a cinematic adventure and well worth a listen.

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