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Album Review: Ghostess – Ghostess EP

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Singer/songwriter Jenna Earle has had an upbringing literally encompassed with musical influences. Born into a gypsy lifestyle, she began her life on the road, blessed with a family that preached the sanctity of song and free spiritedness. Earle was raised in a rural setting without any electricity or running water, surrounded with a mixed bag of musical instruments and genres, embracing the blues and flamenco stylings her parents adored. This early fondness for ethnic music would help develop her prowess as an artist.

At the ripe age of 11, Earle appeared as a vocalist on her uncle Lenny Graf’s Juno-nominated record and would go on to procure a diploma in musical composition. Under the moniker Ghostess, she began producing her own music, shaped by the varying styles she grew up with, including blues, jazz, gypsy, and folk. With her first EP, Earle identifies with the exotic folklore of her childhood, while preserving the musical direction she adopted in her later years from figures like Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.

On said self-titled EP, the styles appropriated are wide-ranging to say the least. Ghostess dedicates each song to a different model of musical performance. What keeps the theme intact is her immovable and immensely jazzy articulation, from the hard-hitting blues/rock ‘n’ roll opener “The Only Time A City’s Clean” to the acoustic, piano-ridden folk ballad “I Know”. As she embarks through these contrasting bodies of musical water, the bluesy resonance remains prominent throughout, save for “Soleil”, the sole vocal-free cut, where Ghostess pays homage to the gypsy tambour of her native roots. The hymn is brimming with flutes and assorted percussion, assuredly meant to inspire flamenco dancing. The smooth electric guitar solos of “Dessert Nights” bring Jimi Hendrix to mind, but met with a contemporary soft rock ambiance brought on by lively piano chords and a very laid back drumbeat. It’s a wonderful exemplification of Ghostess’s dexterity as a modern day traditionalist.

Ghostess EP, out now via Authentik Artists, acts as a preview of sorts, an introduction of a worldly, refined musician to a jazz scene that can, at times, be in dire need of a fresh sound. Though it’s undoubtedly a jazz record, Ghostess is also the work of a connoisseur of culture and composition, adhering to a traditional audience whilst merging classical repertoire with an exotic perspective. Thanks to her unorthodox upbringing, Jenna Earle has the ability to be bold and daring without really trying, and it shows.

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