For anyone suffering from trying to digest the multiple overdubs and fifteen years of fiddling about presented on the recently surfaced GUNS N' ROSES album, the perfect antidote may just be waiting in the stripped down simplicity of one-man outfit and "folk-punk troubadour" GHOSTWRITER. Alternatively billed as "a one-man existential blues machine", a label I think is more accurate, Steve Schecter with his home made percussion device and hollow-body guitar, harmonica and banjo produces songs that sound instantly more focused than any over-produced "opus" will likely sound whilst his voice, reminiscent at times to a young ALICE COOPER ("Captain" reminding me somewhat of "Is It My Body?"), delivers cleverly observed lyrics that turn out surprisingly often to be deceptively upbeat.
The songs themselves are unassuming but effective. Few will appear in your "best ever" lists but collectively they make the album a fine set of modern day stories set to traditional music. The superb rail-road blues of "Mobile Line" recalls simpler days whilst the message is from the modern era. The harmonica that ultimately drenches it though is age old, as is the drone of the guitar that marks the excellent "Clean Slate". "These Old Songs" may at first contradict the rough hewn feel of most of the material but again it's a clever lyric proving, and this trick is repeated on "Breaking Point" and "Hills" too, more optimistic than a cursory listen may suggest.
Ultimately, this is a good disc to offer up as proof that you don't need excessive, multi-layered studio trickery to deliver a perfectly listenable album and a perfectly fine listen this is. The only fiddling about being the welcome addition of a guest fiddle player on the beautifully languid "Blue Eyed Girl".-Bill Leslie