My god do I love this album. It is everything a dark-stuff loving weirdo like me could ever hope for. It is a complete embrace of everything spooky and ghostly and murderous and haunted. Brought to you by Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks (also responsible for the similarly dark, but more country-flavored Those Poor Bastards), Ghost Ballads is thirteen tracks (naturally) of creepy, atmospheric, and sometimes even graphic music. But not screaming, death-metal graphic, mind you. I've seen this artist's genre described as Gothic Americana or Dark Folk, and both are certainly appropriate.
The stand-out track is definitely "The Golden Rule," which seems plucked right out of an Edward Gorey tome. The story of Mary Moore, a woman once murdered and brought back to life, who, with the help of two children, ax-slaughter anyone they come across. Other stand-out tracks are "Terror on the Ghost Ship," in which a sailor is thrown overboard and devoured by ocean creatures, and "Curse of the Poltergeist," in which you can use your imagination...
But what made me fall in love, truly, with this album was the inclusion of "Skin and Bone," which should sound familiar to anyone who grew up reading the often-praised Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections. The lyrics are ever in place as you remember them, now set to the perfect and eerie music. "Old Woman All Skin and Bone"is a traditional song and has been around forever, but it's safe to say Scary Stories popularized the song with young readers. Based on some of the music videos I've watched for Lonesome Wyatt's songs, I'd hazard a guess he was certainly a fan of those ghastly dripping books (as we all were/are).
The full track list as as follows:
1. The Golden Rule
2. Curse of the Poltergeists
3. Terror On the Ghost Ship
4. Dream of You
5. Skin and Bones
6. Boy With No Shadow
7. October 1347
8. The Mouldering One Returns
9. Midsummer Fair
10. Haunted Jamboree
11. Death of Me
12. You Cannot Be Saved from the Grave
13. Bone Orchard Rise
Given its odd-ball subject matter, Lonesome Wyatt's discography won't be found at Walmart, but the usual online retailers have this and the other albums (Heartsick, Sabella, and the first album Moldy Basement Tapes - extremely low-fi recordings made on cassette in a basement). You can also snag them directly from the band's website to support them directly.
Lonesome Wyatt is perfect for Halloween, late-night listening, and when the rain is coming down. Though it may sound like I'm pushing it, it's not often when I'm able to find something like this that's not only well-realized and well-executed, but manages to appeal directly to tenets of my personality. This is not something I'd share with casual music fans, but only with those who I feel are...let's call it peculiar...like I am. I have a feeling I'm going to be listening for a long long time.
I leave you with the official video for "The Golden Rule." There's really nothing I can say about it except...wow.