The Ghost And The Grace
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The Ghost And The Grace

Bellingham, Washington, United States | SELF

Bellingham, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Folk

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"College News Magazine Review"

After its revival in the 60s, folk music has fallen off the popular music radar. To combat that trend, it disguised itself in different genres, but now folk music is merely an afterthought, with its traits sporadically used in modern music.

Formerly one-half of Idiot Pilot, Seattle producer and musician Daniel Anderson has mounted a truly memorable solo project with The Ghost And The Grace, providing a perfect example of the “alternative folk” genre. It also exemplifies the phrase “solo effort,” as Anderson is single-handedly responsible for a vast majority of what you hear on the debut album, Behold! A Pale Horse.

Anderson shows off his tremendous musical talent on Behold!, providing almost all of the instrumentation found on the record. You can hear him playing the banjo, guitar, bass, piano, mandolin, percussion, accordion, glockenspiel and vibraphone as well as the string and horn arrangements. That is all sorts of impressive.

From the opening track “What Have I Done?,” The Ghost And The Grace hook you with vibrant melodies, perfected harmonies and an eclectic mix of instruments. Anderson switches between up-tempo spoken word and drawn-out sung lyrics (and sometimes straight-up screaming), establishing a stark contrast within a single track, a trend he continues throughout the record.

“How Far You Go” has a backwater folk feel with its banjo-laden verses and low-pitched lyrics, but musically explodes its refrains with alternative rock while showcasing Anderson’s vocal prowess. “Antlion” relaxes with its meandering banjo and laid-back vocals, leaving you satisfied and pacified. On “Genetics,” the single from the album, Anderson takes the alternative genre’s best attributes and adds his own subtle folk topping.

Throughout the thirteen tracks on Behold! A Pale Horse, Anderson mixes up styles and atmospheres, so despite the similarities, you never feel as if you’re listening to the same song twice. It’s a welcome pace-changer for anyone’s listening habits without taking the massive step into pure folk music.

The Ghost And The Grace will be performing on September 11th at El Corazon in Seattle, Washington. The following day you can catch Daniel and the band at The Old Foundry in nearby Bellingham for their CD release party.

Keep a look out for The Ghost And The Grace’s upcoming performances and snag merchandise, including their debut album, Behold! A Pale Horse from their website. Anderson also “graces” the site with his presence in the form of blogs and video entries. - Joe Anello


"Ultimate-Guitar.com Album Review"

Sound: The Ghost And The Grace is the folk rock solo project of Daniel Anderson (from the Bellingham electronic post-hardcore band, Idiot Pilot). Getting burnt out from the hardcore scene, Daniel bought a banjo and started working on songs that would eventually form The Ghost And The Grace's debut album "Behold! A Pale Horse."

Drawing from a wide array of influences, the sound in "Behold! A Pale Horse" is a bit broad, but ultimately tied together by the folk roots that are spread throughout the album. Of the more straightforward folk tunes, tracks like "Antlion," "Genetics," and "Unfortunately, That's Life" illustrate the basics, and Sufjan Stevens and Bright Eyes influences can be noticed. In addition to the folk roots, another thing that rides throughout the album are the grandiose horn arrangements, reminiscent of artists like Rufus Wainwright (e.g. the opener, "What Have I Done?" is a prime example of this). One thing Anderson manages to do very well is create a sort of folk fusion with many of the tracks. There are the hard rockers (e.g. bluesy "Cloud Of Flies," and Springsteen-esque "A Pretty Good Place To Start"), the 50's doo-wops (e.g. "How Far You Go" and "We Should Get Back Into Books"), and even a post-rock ballad (e.g. "After All". Basically, Anderson proves that you don't have to be confined in your sound and creativity just because you are using a banjo. // 10

Lyrics and Singing: Anyone familiar with Idiot Pilot will know that Daniel isn't known for his singing. He is known for his screaming. So it might be with surprise for an Idiot Pilot fan to find him abandoning (for the most part) his trademark scream and actually sing on The Ghost And The Grace. But a very pleasant surprise it is. Anderson proves that despite the harshness he can display, he can also attain beauty with his voice.

Lyrically, whereas Idiot Pilot use words with broad meaning, The Ghost And The Grace use sentences with broad meaning. You still have to do a little dissecting to get to the meaning, but the lyrics are a bit more straightforward than those of Idiot Pilot at least. Also, there is a loose theme that runs through the album (which can be hinted at from the album's title) of life, death, and what it is to be human. Visions of the apocalypse, the scientific aspects of love, and the assurance that the house always wins are but a few of the topics covered. Overall, it makes for an interesting listen into the mind of Daniel Anderson. // 8

Impression: All in all, "Behold! A Pale Horse" is an outstanding debut effort. The fact that the album was completely self promoted and completely self released only adds to what makes this a very special record. With an arsenal of some of the most diverse folk sounds around, Daniel Anderson will most definitely be making a name for himself outside of the hardcore scene. // 10 - Ultimate Guitar


"The Ghost And The Grace"

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It's efficiency at its finest. Or so I thought until I met Daniel Anderson.

Daniel (Robert) Anderson is a 22-year-old Bellingham local. He already achieved praise worthy success as one half of the alt rock/electronic duo Idiot Pilot (IP), Bellingham's most nationally recognized band since Death Cab moved away.

IP's third albums is nearing completion, and while other half Michael Harris is off filling in on The Killer and the Star's tour as a bass player, Daniel has been focusing on finishing and generating enthusiasm for his soon-to-be-released solo project: The Ghost and The Grace.

TGATG's first album Behold! A Pale Horse is the product of a multifarious smattering of influences. Trying to define it would be pointless, and a proper introduction would far exceed my word limit, so I'll just have to settle for saying that this album is made up of possibly the most exuberant, charismatic, complex, and playfully nostalgic 13 tracks about death that you may ever hear.

The idea for TGATG first started forcing its way up for air when Idiot Pilot was touring with Drop Dead Gorgeous a couple years back. "All the other bands were just straight ahead metal. Every night it was just dissonance and screaming ... I love those guys, but I just got so burnt out on that scene." One night after a show in Austin, Texas, Daniel bought his banjo. The ceaseless aural onslaughts of two years of the Taste of Chaos tour only further fueled Daniel's craving to create music of an entirely different disposition.

Gesturing around the studio we were sitting in, he explained that while he could sit down here and write a solid Idiot Pilot song in a mere couple of hours, "TGATG songs are much less instinctual for me. I have to put a lot more effort into it, and I like that. And I like scoring something more in line with my tastes. I wanted it to sound very American ... a very rootsy type of American music." While writing this album Daniel was in the throes of listening to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen, Randy Williams, Sufjan Stevens, Elvis, and Rufus Wainwright.

The push for more "American" sounding music was in part a response to the frequent comments that IP sounds like a "British" band. More pervasive, though, is Daniel's reverence for the unique American culture that is so often overlooked and taken for granted. He speaks in awe of Aaron Copeland, the 20th century composer who uses the same chords and instruments as any European classical composer, but manages to create music that is distinctly American.

Daniel draws on sounds and styles that were made famous by the 50s greasers, beach rockers, and blues musicians, among a repertoire of many others mid-20th century pop music stimuli. The best he can do to sum up the album by calling it "retro". Though persistently upbeat, Behold! A Pale Horse is not just a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky album. The tracks have their dark sides, too. "I've always liked songs that make you equally happy and sad at the same time. They are specific, poppy, catchy songs that are also dark."

The concept that ultimately took hold of the music was first sparked by a conversation with IP producer Ross Robinson. Robinson (who has worked with bands like Glassjaw, Norma Jean, and the Blood Brothers) was commenting on metal bands that used to be dark and satanic, but now just seemed paltry. The new "really, crazy metal-that-rips-your-heart-out stuff that he was seeing was all these Christian bands. The reason being that when they talk about fire and hell, all that stuff that used to be cheesy, they really full-on believe it. They absolutely 100 percent think that it's the truth and it's insanely powerful because whether or not you agree with it that's these peoples' lives."

Not a Christian himself, Daniel was fascinated by the degree of fervent passion that the Bible excites in so many of people. With the intention of drawing on some of the most grandiose (not to mention chaotic, bizarre, and unsettling) Christian imagery, Daniel turned to Bible's final book: Revelations. His original idea was to make one EP for each of Revelation's four apocalyptic horsemen, starting with the fourth: "And behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Death..." Revelations 6:8.

For Daniel, a man of science in place of faith, each track was a means to systematically deconstruct the fear of death that he'd always harbored. "A lot of the songs are a very scientific approach to death. Is there a soul when we die? Probably not. We'll be out like a light... Or the question of do I think that there's a soul only because I'm scared?" The writing process was therapeutic. He came to the conclusion that where most religions comfort their followers with promises of an afterlife, science had provided him with the solace of knowing that "energy and matter never really disappear, they just change form." The process is infinite. It's eternal. Also in the end, Daniel realized that the Pale Horse was more than an EP, it was an album.

The best way to convey the essence of TGATG might be to paint the picture of a live show. With the exception of a few base lines, Daniel played all of the instruments on the album himself. For a live set, though, he'd need a thirteen piece band. That would include a horn section, back-up singers (who would likely double as the crucial clap section), three guitar/banjo/mandolin players, a drummer, accordion, keyboard, and piano player. "What I want to do is a big band kinda thing. I wouldn't even want to play banjo or guitar live, I'd have the band on risers behind me." It will take awhile before TGATG has the money to put on a show of such proportions, but if you've seen Daniel crazily tearing up a stage performing with IP, you know that he has a presence large enough to embody the big band spirit.

Besides the brilliant songs and skill to pull them off, now four years after being picked up by a major label Daniel has experience and industry savvy working for him. "Because of the collapse of the music industry, everyone at these big labels is scrambling around trying to act like they are a small label. They're trying to make everything homegrown and it's not working out. It's like a giant machine trying to do all these tiny, intricate jobs."

With TGATG, Daniel is throwing himself into self-promotion. He started to stir the pot a year ago by releasing the first of TGATG demos online. Karl Peterson (of Sidearm Design) is Daniel's friend, graphic designer, and web master. They just revamped www.TheGhostAndTheGrace.com, merch is already available for pre-sale, and Daniel has started a video blog to explicate each of the tracks on Behold! A Pale Horse to build a following before the album is released on iTunes in early May. So far, the vlog is working. Less than 24 hours after the latest vlog entry was released, it had 100 hits on YouTube.

Over the two hours I spent with Daniel I was struck by how calm and calculating he is. Not in an evil and maniacal way, but in an astoundingly thorough sense. When you ask him a question he hasn't heard phrased just so, you can see his mind whirring. His answers, presumably like his thoughts, ramble. But they don't meander endlessly. Daniel thinks subjects through to an opinion, and acts on them. He made this album, he's riling up e-energy for its release, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he harnessed his industry know-how and starts galloping with these apocalyptic horsemen of his.

He may not be going in a straight line, but Daniel Anderson is connecting the dots. When the sails of The Ghost and The Grace are unfurled, he'll be going places.

- Melanie Merz - What's Up! Magazine


Discography

Behold! A Pale Horse (LP), Genetics (Single). Tracks have been played on the radio in the Seattle area and streamed on online radio stations.

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Bio

The Ghost and the Grace is the first major solo effort and latest music project from 23-year-old musician and producer Daniel Anderson. Anderson previously gained notarization as one half of Warner Brothers recording artist, Idiot Pilot.

The band’s debut album, Behold! A Pale Horse, is a hybrid of folk, pop, and rock with distinct vocals, rootsy instrumentation, and lush choruses; even a bit of the familiar screaming thrown in. The Ghost and the Grace showcases Anderson’s talents as a gifted artist and producer while keeping to the same tune of innovative songwriting exhibited by his previous projects. Referencing artists from Bruce Springsteen to Sufjan Stevens to Huey Lewis and the News, The Ghost and the Grace is an amalgamation of both old and new, giving it a unique sound and perspective.