BY KIRSTY CAPES
Despite having varying levels of success in the charts over the last five years or so, it still feels like Ghostpoet is very much growing into his own skin. With the rise of spoken word artists like George the Poet and Kate Tempest, especially on the London scene, it seems like Ghostpoet is at the forefront of a new movement; a shift in the socio political conscience of the proletariat in a time of political restlessness and uncertainty. These social anxieties are more and more often being expressed through the medium of poetry and spoken word. Ghostpoet does it beautifully.
It’s important to point out that ‘Shedding Skin’ is not just a poetry album. Ghostpoet juxtaposes raw lyrics against haunting guitars, slow and lazy, often distorted. The choice of tone with the music is a cold and cutting way to demonstrate Ghostpoet’s themes of being young, poor and lonely in an urban landscape of the 21st century. The musical accompaniments interestingly hark back to a 90s Seattle grunge scene, at times reminiscent of an early 2000s Incubus and at others emulating the melancholic overtones of Elliott Smith and some of Nirvana’s later work, not surprising since Paul Smith is billed as a collaborator on this album. The rough, gravelly quality of Ghostpoet’s own voice, which so often draws out vowels in unexpected patterns, making his elocutions almost drawl-like, is perfect for overall tone and quality of the work.
A word that has been used repeatedly by critics to describe this album is ‘haunting’. While this is true, one of the stand out tracks for me is certainly ‘Be Right Back, Moving House’, which builds tension but never quite reaches breaking point and unexpectedly hearkens to the current emo revival happening in the states. The Britishness of the thing only serves to emphasise the Americanised composition of the sounds. ‘Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me’ is another track which embodies the entire essence of the work, showcasing Ghostpoet’s ability to mix gritty realism with ethereal and otherworldly conceptualism. While it’s certainly not a concept album, ‘Shedding Skin’ serves to remind us all of the ugly nature of existence, through the eyes of both a musician and a poet.