“Letters to Ghosts” is Lucie Silvas’ first album in nearly ten years after having released “Breathe In” in 2004 to critical and commercial acclaim and “The Same Side” in 2006, as well as having written for a number of well-known musicians in the UK. “Letters to Ghost”, due out 18th September, was recorded in Nashville with a tight knit group of friends, and produced by Silvas, John Osborne (Brothers Osborne) and Ian Fitchuk, on Silvas’ own label Furthest Point Records.
“Every bit of everything I’ve got in myself went into this music; the energy, the emotion and the story. I never felt the same freedom to tell the truth about myself before – the good and bad – and that’s the only way I want to make music, from a genuine place.”
“Letters to Ghosts” is a Roots album with elements of Americana, Pop, and Outlaw Country with the dark and self-destructive current running through some of the songs. From the five tracks that have been released in the run up to the album’s release date; “Letters to Ghost”, “Unbreakable Us”, “How To Lose It All”, “Shame” and “Villain”; the theme seems to be one of ghosts both past and present and how they never really leave but just become fainter as time moves on.
“Letters to Ghosts”
I have been listening to the acoustic version of this song for quite sometime since Lucie uploaded a video of her and her fellow musicians sitting together in a circle jamming to the title track, “Letters to Ghosts”. It is has Americana/Roots written all over it, with its’ thudding heartbeat running throughout the song and its’ acoustic guitars and mandolin. The beautiful and powerful instrumentation combined with the longing in Lucie’s voice and lyrics makes this the perfect song to introduce the listener to the new music. The story seems to be one of looking back on a past relationship and seeing what could have been, what might have been if the narrator had only tried harder, and the ghost of that relationship forever following behind the narrator as she makes her way through the world bereft of her love.
“Left with the ashes as I let it burn/ There with my cold heart buried in the dirt/ His love’s the only thing that still hurts/ I would be yours now if the tables turned”
I don’t normally go in for happy songs, so this was initially not a favourite of mine; melancholy is more my jam. But after finding myself at a particular stage of life where you’re constantly trying to stand upright amidst the waves crashing down harder and harder, I realised that “Unbreakable Us” doesn’t necessarily have to apply to those only in relationships but also the struggles we go through each day and how things never stay the same for too long.
“Just because it rains/ Just because it aches/ Don’t mean a flood’s coming to carry us away”
Sonically, “Unbreakable Us” has the same rootsy/Americana driving the track forward but as you hit the bridge the song takes a darker, moodier turn reminiscent of Outlaw Country.
“How To Lose It All”
“How To Lose It All” is perhaps the funniest song on the album with handclaps that set the track off, the fast paced beat and the swell and surge of guitars but it is also the most self-destructive song too. With the world weary narrator telling her lover that she is basically bad news, that love doesn’t last and even if things are going well she will inevitably destroy it.
How many buildings can I burn down/ Picking through the ashes is all I know now/ It’s just like me to let a good thing go/ I’m a wrecking machine all on my own”
This song and the track “Villain” are not what is usual fare for female musicians to write and sing about; being the “bad guy” in the relationship and not being sorry about it. There’s no sugar coating, no happy ending, and no trying to prettify the song or her actions. It is what it is.
“Stick with me I’ll teach you how to lose it all/ Don’t know ‘bout flying I only know how to fall/ When it comes to love the writings on the wall/ Stick with me I’ll teach you how to lose it all”
The most country song on the album both instrumentally, it’s dark and moody twang, and lyrically, a slew of characters from a Preacher running off with a widow and a drug addict mother and a abused wife.
“He was a Preacher in a small town/ Took up with a widow on the rebound/ Gossip travels at the speed of sound/ Shame”
The song is about the universal feeling of shame that we all experience no matter who we are and where we live; it’s non-discriminatory and gets us all in the end no matter how “holier than thou” we pretend to be.
“Everyone’s got secrets hidden deep down inside/ Funny how the truth cuts us all down to size”
A sparse piano ballad where by the end of the song, the listener is left wondering who the real villain of the story is, and that maybe it’s not the person you first thought it was.
“Go ahead say I didn’t try/ Tell your friends that I proved them right/ Say everything you wanna say/ I wouldn’t hold it against you anyway/ A stone cold heart ain’t gonna fight”
The song seems to centre on the narrator who has broken a relationship and is happy to play the role of the villain. However, as the song moves forward with Lucie’s heart-wrenching vocals you start to realize that things aren’t as clear cut as you first believed; that maybe the blame isn’t so one-sided and that the narrator was always going to be the “bad guy” in the situation.
“3,2,1 let the bombs go off/ Let the wires get cut cos we’ve had enough/ You wear the crown/ Be the toast of the town/ And I’ll take the fall when the walls come down/ Darling if you’re lookin/ if you’re lookin/ if you’re lookin for a villain/ I’ll play”