Rolling Stone Ghost Nation Review

Positive review of the Ghost Nation album from Rolling Stone at the time of release.

Author: Ed St John, Rolling Stone.

Date: January 1990.

Original URL: N/A

 

Article Text

If would have been logical, even predictable, if Hunters and Collectors had delivered a dud record for their seventh album release. I mean, seriously, every band has its flat spots, its periods of artistic poverty. And with six albums of consistently excellent, constantly evolving rock & roll behind them, we might even have excused a poor showing this time out.

But Hunters and Collectors – and importantly, Mark Seymour – just aren’t that kind of group. Perhaps because they have largely failed to break through their loyal following to notch up major record sales, they have never worked from a position of complacency. They’ve been more or less fighting to survive every inch of the way, and that has imbued their music with a lean, passionate yearning for excellence that drives them to greater and greater heights.

The first thing that strikes me about Ghost Nation is its sound. The band plays with impressive spirit,the grooves flowing with a spontaneous grace that far surpasses much of their earlier work. Moreover the music is beautifully recorded and intelligently, thoughtfully mixed. In this regard the album come perilously close to parts of Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust, and that can’t be a bad thing.

The Oils are one of several interesting reference points on Ghost Nation; you can certainly hear their echo in one of the album’s finest moments, “Running Water.” Another comparison – again altogether flattering, but this time more logical – is Crowded House. On songs like “Blind Eye,” and “Ghost Nation” there is a very real sense of Neil Finn’s introspective-yet-hooky songwriting.

But if Mark Seymour’s songwriting is inviting comparisons to some of the masters of Australian rock & roll it’s only because he has evolved there naturally. The twelve songs on Ghost Nation are unequivocally person statements, their hooks as original as their sentiments. Seymour’s work has never been derivative to date, and I am sure he’s not about to start now.

Although Ghost Nations has its share of driving, horn-driven rock songs (the Hunter’s passport to their enthusiastic live following), and although some of these songs – When the River Runs Dry,” “Running Water,” *Spring Fever” – are really quite excellent, it’s a record that’s really made by the ballads and quieter songs. “Blind Eye” is a breath-takingly poignant, delicate tune supported by a tight,intuitive band groove. “Ghost Nation” and “You Stole My Thunder” are amongst the finest emotive ballads Seymour has ever written.

Even accepting the fact that there really is no justice in the world, and that ridiculously overwrought power ballads will often sell better than really interesting new sounds, it’s still hard to believe that Ghost Nation can’t get the attenuation and success,it richly deserves. Quite simply, it would be a crime for such passionate music to be ignored.

 

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Thankyou to Tammy for typing out this article for us all to enjoy!