Near the end of 2015, Ghost & the City gave us glimpses of an act that was intent on pushing stylistic boundaries, with the release of two tracks from their forthcoming effort. The “Patchwork Soul” E.P. has dutifully delivered the full picture. “Patchwork Soul” lives up to its name, doling out an array of stylistic variants united by a soulful groove. That’s the constant for Oakland-based Ghost & the City: unique, distinct, danceable funk, that’s somehow seething under surface with frustrated desperation.
Leading off the E.P., G&TC reminds their listeners that this is the same band they’ve known and loved, laying down a soulful display of vocal stylings (provided by Kia Fay) behind a cast of grove-mongering mood setters led by co-founder Ash Maynor (read the review here). The established baseline is significant, as the remainder of the album slaloms through genres, often forging new trails in the G&TC songbook. “Mosaic” (featuring urban soulsters Dom Jones and Marcus Stevens) turns the page to a straight hip-hop flow, pushing off a rhyme scheme that’s only interrupted by Fay’s own, heavenly singing voice. Maynor and company texture a line of head-bobbing palm-muted guitar and triplet-imbued beats.
Maynor takes the mic on the next two tracks (“Be Your Man” and “Black and Blue”) executing his own take on the nightclub sound, reminiscent of Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets) minus the gothic zeal. Fay now assumes texturing duties, accompanied by well placed horn arrangements, light guitars, and synthesizers. “Be Your Man” stages a more uptempo flair, while “Black and Blue” lays back in juxtaposition. Drum triggers, Rhodes keys and horns accompany Fay, as she teases her soulful way on “Smaller Everyday.” The album’s closer, “Dark Scenes,” has Maynor wielding synthetic sounds over incessant beats (read the review here).
The “Patchwork Soul” E.P. skillfully forges a new style, always with the same result: infectious hooks, gorgeous voices, and an emotional engagement. It seems like a daring stylistic endeavor until you realize it’s all a worship of the almighty groove; then the six tracks on the album feel unequivocally at home. Fay and Maynor simply can’t shake the simple truth: that they’re beholden to an atmosphere that makes Ghost & The City what it is at its core.
LISTEN TO the E.P. via the Ghost & The City official website.
This review originally appeared in Examiner.