(4 / 5)
Here we have the debut album from folk artist James Auger under the guise of ‘A Choir Of Ghosts’…
Sweden-based, British-born James says the opening track “Sinner In Rapture” deals with: “The way all young people are set up to fail with the way society is built”, and how he didn’t want to be a part of it.
Also, that to “unwrap the album, we need to make our way deep into the Scandinavian forest, into the wilderness”, where we will find James performing his “melancholic and vigorous tunes”.
This concept is echoed on the album cover image, a haunting Scandi’-Noir style photograph of a Scandinavian forest, overlaid with an on-trend spindly logo/graphic.
But the 11-track album – which took him three years to write – doesn’t deliver the dark, haunted emotional depths that the publicity material and the artwork (and even James’ pseudonym) may perhaps subliminally promise.
Auger’s music is a quite an uplifting, buoyant folk/rock concoction, but without the deep melancholy which I had expected.
The instrumental intro’ leads into “Sinners Rapture”, which features a string arrangement and luscious choral chorus, (but singing without lyrics).
Here, James Auger’s vocal strongly hints at his primary influence, Kurt Cobain, but without the harrowing edge that Cobain had in abundance.
Auger’s voice then slips into an appealing tone on the mid and up-tempo tracks such as “Outside The Window” and title track “Ounce Of Gold”, and on the slower tracks, a softer delivery.
On “Southwest of the Moon”, he employs long legato notes, his vocals then oscillate to varying degrees throughout the rest of the tracks, which are heavily acoustic and perhaps peter off somewhat in terms of imagination and range.
After a bunch of single releases since 2016 as James Auger & The Natives, an EP (“Woods”) in 2018 and the success of the single “Morning Light” as A Choir Of Ghosts – notching up more than 1,000,000 Spotify streams, this debut album is hopefully a sign of good things to come from Mr Auger in the future.
By Max Robertson
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’