Ally Rhodes is no stranger to music, with two EP’s and two full length albums already out, she’s got quite the repertoire already. Add this to over 7 Million video views on her main YouTube channel, with over 196 videos 45, 000 subscribers (all stats are as of 28/12/12) and one could already call her a success. But, with the release of her new album, Conversations With A Ghost, it’s plain for anyone to see that rather than slowing down, Ally has only now reached her musical prime and this is aided in no small part to her being able to retain creative control of her own music. To me, and many others, music is a deeply personal thing, and while I have nothing but respect for many of today’s popular artists, they just don’t put their heart in the music they produce. While there are exceptions, they are harder and harder to find with every passing year. Songs that come straight from the heart like Demi Lovato’s
Skyscraper should be considered an endangered species by this point, but it’s thanks to the brave singer/songwriters like Ally that music as an art-form will live on.
The Songs. From the very first track off of Conversations With A Ghost, entitled
Greater Than you can feel the emotion in her voice. Taken from the chorus: “I’m not the best daughter; I’m not the best friend…” From just these two lines, it’s clear that this isn’t a party/dance floor oriented pop song. What it is, at least to me, is Ally expressing herself in her music. And isn’t that what music is all about? An escape for both the performer and listener when they feel the rest of the world just won’t understand? In this wonderful album opener, Ally both writes a song with greatly inspiring lyrics, but she also sings it beautifully and there’s not a note that sounds out of place here, it does a wonderful job of setting the tone for the rest of the album. The album’s second track, entitled Carry Me Out, is no less emotional than the first. If anything, it’s darker. While Greater Than was an uplifting song, it still gave hints of something darker, which begins to take form on the second track. Carry Me Out is a sort of embodiment of the concept of music being an escape. Carry Me Out takes the tone set by Greater Than and takes it up a notch, somehow managing to be sad and enjoyable to listen to at the same time. * * Atlas is the third track on Conversations With A Ghost. I’ll admit that the first time I heard it, I didn’t immediately connect to it, but it turned out to be one of those songs that slowly grows on me. And those kind of songs usually turn out to be the ones that I’m addicted to for months to come. And after a couple more plays, I don’t think Atlas will be any different. It was only after reading the lyrics, that I began to see that Atlas is actually loosely based on Doctor Who, with numerous subtle references being made throughout the song. [Edit: Unfortunately, Ally has said that Atlas doesn’t refer to Doctor Who intentionally, but she agrees that the lyrics fit pretty well anyway.]** ** Speaking of Doctor Who, the fourth track of Conversations With A Ghost is entitled River Song. I can sum up this song in three words: I love it. As is pretty clear elsewhere on this site, I love Doctor Who, and perhaps one day I’ll do a post about why. To put it quite simply, everything I love about Doctor Who is captured in this song. It’s named after River Song, whose relation to the 11th Doctor I will not state here, for fear of spoiling it too early. My love for this song is deeply personal, but the other 71000 viewers on her original video for the song are a pretty good indication of how amazing it is. There is a lot of Doctor Who based music out there, but Ally’s River Song takes the cake as the best of the bunch. Her vocals are powerful and you can hear the emotion in her voice (especially in the original video for the song). While those who aren’t familiar with the series can also enjoy this song, those who are (especially fans of the 11th Doctor and River) will certainly get chills when they first hear it, I know I did. Next up is the fifth track entitled The Sum. I’ll start off by saying that I see a lot of Doctor Who references in here, but beyond that, it seems to be a love song of sorts. It exhumes this uplifting feeling and stands out among the darker songs that popular the majority of the album. As I’ve said before, music is a deeply personal thing, and to me The Sum gives off this feeling of hope, even when everything seems against you. The Sum is also Ally’s first music video off the Conversations With A Ghost. There’s both an official music video over on her YouTube channel, but she also uploaded a second video where she sings it acoustically on a baseball field. Both are definitely worth checking out and set a nice precedent for any future music videos for the songs on the album. There’s no stopping the emotional momentum of Conversations With A Ghost now, and track six, Pockets doesn’t disappoint. While the meaning of the title wasn’t immediately clear to me [hint: read the lyrics], the song and it’s lyrics more than make up for it. To me, Pockets is about a friendship gone bad, and honestly, who can’t relate to that? Ally’s vocals on this track really shine, rather than the deep and mellow tune of River Song, her voice her is more upbeat and shows off her vocal range pretty good. Places That A Mind Should Never Go. Just the name of the track draws me in and captures my interest, and what I find when I hit play doesn’t disappoint me either. This is what music should be. In track 7 of Conversations With A Ghost, Ally continues to express herself in her songs and crafts a heavily addictive song in the process. Maybe it’s because I relate to this song a lot in ways I wouldn’t have expected, but that’s what music is to me: a way to express yourself when nothing else seems to get it just right. Excluding River Song, which was previously released as a single and is thus ineligible, Places That A Mind Should Never Go is my favorite song on the album. It’s also the song that got me excited about the album, after I listened to it on Ally’s YouTube channel. The penultimate track is Roses In A Teapot. This song offers significant contrast over the rest of the album by being more upbeat and seemingly lighthearted, but it still bears the same level of emotion and feeling that the rest of the album does. Roses In A Teapot is a remarkable song that’s both upbeat and dark at the same time and to me, symbolizes both the sadness of leaving and the excitement of finding someplace new or returning to somewhere you’re fond of. To accomplish both at the same time is a testament to Ally’s masterful lyrical ability, evident throughout the album. And finally, the last track on Conversations With A Ghost is Ghost Of You. There’s a reason Ghost Of You is the album’s most popular song on iTunes. But before we go into why Ghost Of You is an amazing song, I’d just like to point out something: Ten and Rose. Those of you who get that reference are probably in tears while listening to this song. I was. Leaving aside the Doctor Who induced feels, Ghost Of You closes the album off not with a bang, but with a song where emotion dictates every line and note. It does a great job at closing off the emotional journey that was Conversations With A Ghost and may just be the best track on the album. Unfortunately, it would not be wrong to state that my fondness of Rose/Ten may have influenced that decision, but it doesn’t mean that Ghost Of You isn’t a great song, the popularity meter on iTunes just about confirms that.
Shortcomings. But I wouldn’t be doing Ally, nor Conversations With A Ghost justice if I didn’t take about its shortcomings. Firstly, it’s short. It consists of 9 average length songs and it leaves you wanting more. Totaling just about 36 minutes, it’s shorter than the majority of other albums at this price point and only just manages being called an LP, rather than an EP. However, if given the choice of more songs at the cost of the quality of the overall album, I’d pick fewer and better songs every time, but I still wish for the best of both quality and quantity. Additionally, while the songs all individually are amazing, they don’t have much cohesion between them. There’s nothing connecting them and the order of the tracks on the album doesn’t seem to add much to the experience. For example, the slightly upbeat
Pockets is preceded and succeeded by more mellow songs and seems out of place in its positioning. This won’t be a problem for most of today’s listeners, including me, but it’s worth noting. And, that’s it. I have nothing more to say about the album negatively other than Amazon needs to get physical copies in stock right this moment so I can throw piles of money at it. That’s right; I’m going to purchase a physical copy of this album, an honor bestowed only upon those things that I love the most, a group which Conversations With A Ghost has earned its place in.
So, should you buy it? Even after all my praise for this album, I can’t blindly recommend that you go out and buy it. After all, not everyone will have shared the same experiences or relate to music the same way. I can say however, that if you’re expecting music you can dance and party to or something you’d hear on the radio’s top 40 playlist, then this isn’t for you and I feel sorry that you might be missing out on this wonderful album. As for the rest of you, I can wholeheartedly encourage you to listen to the songs from Conversations With A Ghost that Ally uploaded to YouTube and decide for yourself. Give it the chance it deserves and don’t dismiss it too easily, because this is a work of art. After listening to it a few times in its entirety I can honestly say that I feel like Ally put her very heart and soul in this and it shows in the quality of the music. Give it an honest chance and you won’t be disappointed.
Conclusion. To sum everything up, Conversations With A Ghost is an amazing album and every song is just so emotional and wonderful. There’s not a wide variety of sounds here, but each one feels like it was crafted with love and care that just isn’t apparent very often in mainstream music today. While this album may not be for everyone, I implore that you give it a proper chance before dismissing it, you’ll be glad you did. While some of the 9 tracks are better than others, none of them can even be considered anything less than great and each one is unique in its own way. With no shortage of Doctor Who references, Whovians get even more out of an already great album. Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy of this and I’m sure I’ll still be listening to it for years to come. Below I have attached links where you can contact Ally and/or purchase her album, among other things, check it out!
Where to buy and other important links.
Buy Digital Copy On iTunes. Buy Digital Copy On Amazon.