Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Angels & Ghosts (Columbia)
LP / CD / DL
9 / 10
The second album from Dave Gahan and Soulsavers. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
For someone who came from the shadows of songwriting as recently as 2003 with his first solo album Paper Monsters, Dave Gahan has shown that there is more to him than being the vocalist and front-man of Depeche Mode.
His first outing with Soulsavers came on their 2012 album The Light The Dead See and showed a different side of Gahan. In the wake of Depeche Mode’s very average Sounds Of The Universe album it showed that all was not lost and its critical acclaim was well deserved. The next Mode album, Delta Machine was undoubtedly the finest vocal performance of his career, the gravelled blues of the collection suited him perfectly and the album was hailed as the bands finest.
Now re-branded as Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, Angels & Ghosts is the new offering. It continues maybe where the previous Soulsavers album left off, but also has big blues influences. Gahan’s voice has leapt up another notch. This is an album of feeling and passion and undoubted class.
It’s no pop album. In fact, much of the album centres around moodiness and feelings of haunting darkness as lead single, All Of This And Nothing proclaims – “there’s a ghost outside my window haunting me”. Not surprisingly, the first taste of the album is the most commercially acceptable and perhaps the way to draw in an audience, and if they’re prepared for intensely atmospheric tracks then they’re in for a treat.
The core of Soulsavers, Rich Machin and Ian Glover has struck gold pairing their sound with Gahan too. Their ambient sound which rises to near meteoric proportions is perfect for the voice, and Angels & Ghosts dispels the ‘difficult second album’ with Gahan easily. Their rock/gospel/country blend plucks away at anyone’s inner self and anyone that enjoys music for the ‘feel’ is going to be impressed.
Perhaps imagine that the album that (theoretically) killed Gahan, Songs Of Faith And Devotion has been gnawed at, swallowed and regurgitated. References to God, Jesus and the Devil are a plenty and sides of Gahan that maybe haven’t emerged in previous recordings are here for all to witness. Don’t Cry, a possible future single is again catchy and a grower (as is the whole album) and starts slowly growing into an anthemic singalong.
The piano led Lately is a dramatic slow-down with some quite heartfelt words and occasional guitar strums with angelic backing vocals. It skilfully avoids the temptation to move up-tempo and remains an almost heart stopping piece of music.
From the opening tones of first track Shine, an intense slab of powerful delta blues to the phoenix like My Sun rising from nothing to encompass rolling drums and passionate string sections, Angels & Ghosts not only proves that there is life in the old Gahan yet, but that he may also have found a partnership that will bear rich fruits for the picking in many years to come.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.