folk Sto­ries of Ghosts Deb­o­rah Con­way and Willy Zigier In­ter­corps/ MGM ★★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

ADAM and Eve re­ally screwed things up. That’s just one among many ob­ser­va­tions Deb­o­rah Con­way and Willy Zigier make on Sto­ries of

Ghosts, a ca­sual stroll through the Old Tes­ta­ment by way of their Jewish her­itage that in 10 songs at­tempts to un­ravel the twisted nar­ra­tive of life, the uni­verse and ev­ery­thing. While there are no de­fin­i­tive an­swers other than per­haps to love your fam­ily and each other, the songs, mostly folky strolls coloured by Zigier’s adept touch on gui­tar, have a great warmth and spirit, whether com­pas­sion or fire and brim­stone is the driv­ing force. It’s the lat­ter on G-D, a dirty, full-band coun­try stroll with Con­way tak­ing on the voice of a venge­ful god ‘‘ that will take you all down’’. Gospel-styled back­ing vo­cals give the song a suit­ably churchy feel, but Con­way’s voice — a beau­ti­ful in­stru­ment in most con­texts — doesn’t quite have the bluesy au­thor­ity to make eter­nal damna­tion seem a re­al­is­tic propo­si­tion. This is the Melbourne cou­ple’s fol­low-up to 2010’s Half Man

Half Woman and as with that al­bum it’s the qui­eter mo­ments here that are the most re­ward­ing. The open­ing The Writ­ing’s On the Wall is a glow­ing ex­am­ple, a beau­ti­fully un­der­stated bal­lad that drifts along on a bed of Zygier’s delightful gui­tar pick­ing and the two singers har­mon­is­ing on an ode to faith, or the lack of it. The sim­i­larly stripped back

Book of Life, East of Eden and At the Western Wall ring with sin­cer­ity and sim­plic­ity, while the clos­ing pi­ano bal­lad finds Con­way at her most del­i­cate and mourn­ful.

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