Friday, April 2, 2010

Paul Cary - 'Ghost of a Man'

When “The Curse of China Bull,” the first track of Ghost of a Man, the new solo album from deposed Horrors frontman Paul Cary (no, not the good Horrors. Some other one), comes on, it promisingly blends haunting rockabilly with old, old, old school blues – think Robert Johnson. When track two, “Yes Machine,” comes on, it repeats the exact same trick. When track three, “Iryna,” comes on, it… well, Cary is nothing if not reliably, unflappably, slightly sadly predictable.

At his best, Cary recalls a slowed down Fake Problems, except with far fewer instances of country rock, humor or awesomeness. At his worst, well, he sounds like every other self-important rocker with a fetish for early 1900s blues. Yeah, the recording quality mimics scratchy recordings from yesteryear and yeah, he gets the chords right, but why anyone would feel the need to reach this far back into the rock ‘n’ roll canon is beyond me. While the songs never grate (although lines like “Where do all the wild things go?” and “Someone take the needle off the record and stick it in my eye” are laughable), they sure do bore.

Ghost of a Man has the following things going for it: Cary’s songs are at least short and focused. He doesn’t seem to have too much ego about himself. Even though the tunes are stripped down – vox, guitar chords and drum and bass parts so simple they usually play a single note per measure – he never forces himself to be the star. His voice is suited to the genre, it just happens to be a dull genre. That said, “Bad People,” near the end of the record, slides in some slight mariachi rhythms to great effect, hinting that maybe Cary might have some better ideas in store.

But I don’t think I’m going to stick around to find out. Ghost of a Man passes by in 31 minutes’ time without much to recommend a repeat listen. It’s inoffensive, it’s bland, it’s a reminder that music has greatly improved over the last 100 years.

Click here to download Ghost of a Man for free.

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