It’s rare these days that people would care about poetry. And so, apart from a couple of songs like Sylvia Plath by Ryan Adams, and What Waited for Me by Rocky Votolato, the influence of poetry is minimal in the world of pop music; and when it is mentioned or spoken about in popular culture, then more for the dark, mysterious, and hysteric private lives of the authors (suicide and homosexuality work best) than for their actual works. Oh, there’s mentions of literature here and there, but never enough to really make me go wow.
So when I came across No Clothes on Ragged Island by Ghost Ghost, I was surprisingly amazed. It’s a whole concept album dedicated to New York poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, solidly good though all songs were written in one day. Less freak-folk than some of their other works, this record is easy on the ear, with lines that will get stuck in your head for days on end. On the track Bizarre Love Triangle, words become rhythm, lines become rhymes: pure Dylan-songwriting, lacking the over-the-top irony.
I didn’t realize at first that this power was a curse that bleeds me
And what’s worse, these words I rehearse, they no longer please me
Every song is inspired by events that took place in Edna’s life, whether they be major or minor; with this main thread, the band from New York were able to put together a soundtrack of sorts to document and enrich the past. At times the voice and tone remind me of Bright Eyes at their best, sad and sincere. The images that find their root in story-telling about drinking and demons are simple but strong, and most of all effective.