Love and change, change and growth through Indie-Folk.
Their self-titled album is, in fact, the third release from Massachusetts alt-folk duo Tim Noyes, who sings and is the main songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist/producer Eddie Byun. Handsome Ghost have been recording together since 2014, starting on the well-trodden path of singles, EPs and then albums. Their sound has evolved over time to be predominantly acoustic, pulling them very much into the crowded world of indie-folk alongside the likes of Mt. Joy, Darlingside and Bandits on the Run, with some of the feel of The Lumineers or even Mumford & Sons who, arguably, set this whole ball rolling. The album features a collection of songs that delve into a dark reflection on change and loss, as some things that seemed set to last forever fall apart with the passage of time. Whilst it’s the poppy hooks on ‘Like You Lost Your Mind‘ that draw the listener in, lyrically there’s a feeling of impermanence and pretence: “we’re running out of time, so love me like you love me like you lost your mind.”
There’s a somewhat more positive feel to ‘Birch Trees‘, which gently and acoustically strolls through familiar spaces – revisiting the scenes of a love affair, although there’s a need for work to rekindle the spark, lawns are overgrown, buildings are run down and “I don’t know why you still make me try so hard / what if now we give it one more chance and start again” doesn’t suggest any hint of a strong foundation. The percussive ‘Boy‘ offers guidelines on how to live, although less from a parental perspective and more as a set of hard-won experiences giving an “if I knew then what I know now” feel to the song which purrs along on warm keyboard lines. A complete change of pace is offered by the campfire revelry of the banjo-led ‘Heaven Isn’t Long For You‘, revelling in a moment of peace where even rain is as welcome as sunshine – it’s all one when one is in tune with the world.
Handsome Ghost’s latest album is, despite the somber nature of many of the lyrics, an easy listen – Tim Noyes has a vocal that conveys an attractive wistfulness alongside the emotional pain of the documented change and loss. There’s a hint of the reassurance of closure on ‘Call Me When You’re Pulling Up‘ – this is a relationship that’s over but there’s a possibility of reconciling to that truth. In a sense then the whole album is about growing up – leaving behind teenage and twenty-something obsessions and moving ahead, where to may not be too clear but just recognizing that need to change gives the album an emotional honesty.