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