Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Whilst the caged bird may be fed and watered, given a safe haven in times of storms and squalls, it nevertheless remains a shadow of the creature it could be, that it should be, a phantom with full plumage, a colourful but ghoulish reminder that cages do not work, they flatter but ultimately the enforced imprisonment is too much to behold.
Better to soar above the cage, the sunlight catching off the edge of each tip of the wing, the eyes fully observant, taking in the enormity of the life ahead. In this there is no Ghost Girl, just a woman who sings with absolute fortitude, with the ability to place a craving of longing and the feelings of abandonment fully in reach of the listener. It is an abandonment that is captured with devastating effect and beauty throughout the album but one that also offers a sense of hope, an expectation that possible wrongs will be avoided, that the shell of the women involved will have the strength to fight back for her own reasons and place in life.
Sally Barker’s new album embodies passion when she sings, her reflections, not just on her own life but on women throughout history, those perhaps who didn’t have a champion, who didn’t have the right words because they were the narrative of another’s story; it is a set of stories that are haunting, rightly so, for it is an emotion that is the only remaining pose in a black and white photo that is doomed to eventually fade.
Ghost Girl gives those snapshots, those still photographs meaning, a voice, a tangible and forceful sense of direction that is both overwhelming and sincere. In tracks such as Emperor of Cool, I’m Not Whole, the utterly beguiling Vampire’s Love, the heartbreaking Queen Of Reckless Feelings and Canada, Sally Barker shows how easily a woman can be consumed by a man, how easily that love can be devastatingly spurned and in turn be twisted around so that woman is then the hunter. It is a quiet but simple revolution, a warning perhaps to never take love for granted and that the abandonment, whether instigated by war or general malice is never a road to go down.
A beautiful but haunting album, Ghost Girl is chilling in its delivery and intense in its feeling, an album of finely woven and exquisite tales.
Ian D. Hall