« x »

MEG BAIRD & MARY LATTIMORE Ghost Forests gets 7.5/10

Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
Ghost Forests
Three Lobed Recordings


On Ghost Forests, songstress Meg Baird and innovative harpist Mary Lattimore combine talents to create a short but engaging collection of folk tunes. Baird’s vocals are breathy and powerful, channelling the singers of Appalachia past, as in her solo albums such as 2007’s debut Dear Companion and 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down the Light. Here she teams with fellow Philadelphian Mary Lattimore, who released the expansive Hundreds of Days earlier in the year. Similar to Baird, Lattimore excels in her tradition but is not shy of applying her skills in the pursuit of something innovative that connects with the heart.

For the folk-inclined, there is a lot to enjoy on Ghost Forests. Not only does Lattimore’s harp playing shine throughout, but the interplay with Baird on acoustic and electric guitars is a delight to experience, especially at the natural pace that things unfold on the album.

Opening track Between Two Worlds is an instrumental, with harp and acoustic guitar tentatively plinking and weaving before some power chords usher in a new theme to establish an opening fanfare to the album. The music here serves as a preview of how these two bounce off each other pleasingly for the rest of the album.

Vocal songs such as Damaged Sunset and Painting of Tygers feature assured, lush singing throughout, with the vocals prominent in the mix with the strings moving the tracks along like a current flowing down a river, carrying the melody along.

On In Cedars, Lattimore’s harp sounds out the main melody, with Baird’s electric guitar hammering out power chords from another county in counterpoint. The multi-tracked vocals move the melodies of the verses, giving way to a chorus with just singing that takes the track to a new high. The end passage stretches the melody and notes to breaking point before coming back stronger than before, to arresting affect.

The album concludes with the traditional number Fair Annie. Here the arrangement is plain and stripped down, going back to the unfettered folk music these women grew up with.

Ghost Forests is a surprising treat of a folk album, with both artists pushing each other to create something special, with a bit of traditional and a bit of clear-eyed innovation to breath life into these songs. More than a few times in the last week, I found myself humming along to some obscure melody from this album, a testament to the songwriting and performances on Ghost Forests.


« x »