Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have finally returned with Ghosts to Ancestors. Anders, a singer-songwriter, has long been in partnership with collaborator O’Bitz, and this release follows their previous work on Of All These Things.
The concept behind this record, as explained by the duo, revolves around individuals being haunted by childhood ghosts who evolve into ancestral figures. The concept develops itself in a clever fashion as the record progresses.
Opening the record is ‘Lopsided Gyre’, a delicate number guided by flowery acoustic work and soft-spoken electric guitar. Anders’s buttery vocals slide in as a tempered but impactful ambience, eventually building into a mighty chorus filled with self-reflection. The duo really hit their stride with a fuzzed-out, gnarly guitar solo rounding out the track neatly.
‘Wonder a Time’ has a warmer, deeper tonal approach. A pulsing bass line coalesces with melancholic and lonely acoustic work — not a million miles from Nick Drake in temper. Conceptually, this track explores the timeless topic of love/romance and the many perspectives on how to handle it.
Folky vibes continue with a country/bluegrass twinge on ‘Wounded Son’, a fine showcase for the versatility of Anders’s voice and O’Bitz’s melodic sensibilities. Above all else, their chemistry is glaringly obvious on this one. Where Anders succeeds vocally throughout the record, O’Bitz is close behind with his guitar work. As a result, the piece almost like a duet — ‘Make the Time’ is a fine example of this.
The album closes with the real highlight in ‘Internal Fire’. This song weaves all the running themes of the album into one conclusive finale. It’s simple and easygoing with dreamy vocals drifting in an empty ambience, suggesting completion and peace.
Ghosts to Ancestors showcases the brilliant chemistry between these two more than anything. It’s certainly not groundbreaking art. But it is, simply, a case of tight songwriting and collaborative creativity done well.