Old Ghost, Hearts and Coffins EP

Old Ghost, Hearts and Coffins EP

Considering the band sounds just like him, Old Ghost should be glad Bob Dylan hasn’t sued for copyright infringement. Okay, so they don’t sound exactly like Bob, but unfortunately, that’s because they’re missing his songwriting ability. Paul Hutzler, the leader of the group, also suffers from a voice that doesn’t quite work for his songs. Put together, it’s kind of hard to recover from that kind of situation.

In general, Hutzler’s songwriting needs a lot more work. “Black Crow” sounds exactly like a somewhat limp cover of “Absolutely Sweet Marie.” If they’d just done the Dylan song instead, that might have been a little better, but the song suffers from an extremely derivative melody and an odd horn part that doesn’t really help anything. “Home is Where You Find It” is one of those songs with verses that have overstuffed cadences, but where Dylan’s lyrics are interesting and dense enough to really demand those sonic ideas, Hutzler’s just sound lazy and careless and, most importantly, just don’t work. The rest of the songs aren’t quite that egregious, but they still aren’t very interesting.

The other part of his problem is his vocal style. His vocals tend to be third-rate, slightly fatuous Dylan parodies. “Black Crow” again sets itself up — it really needed a fiery rant to match the melody, but he doesn’t put nearly enough into it, and it comes off sounding way too smooth. Even on slower, mellower songs, though, like “Put My Watch Away,” where his style might work better, Hutzler’s vocals still come off bland and characterless.

Plenty of musicians start in different (and louder) styles and move to another, like Hutzler did, and make it work. This guy, however, needs to go back. He’s not doing himself, or us, much good here.

(Infinite Universe Records; Old Ghost -- http://www.myspace.com/oldghostsounds)

Review by . Review posted Friday, April 10th, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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