Andy Black - The Ghost of Ohio
Review by Shannon Shumaker
Andy Black is no stranger to taking risks when it comes to his music. Whether it was when he left his home state of Ohio for Hollywood to find success with Black Veil Brides when he was just 18, or experimenting with new sounds on his 2016 solo release, The Shadow Side, Black has always embraced change and growth with his musical endeavors, and his latest album, The Ghost of Ohio is no exception. Sonically, The Ghost of Ohio is an absolute masterpiece, taking cues from 80’s rock ballads and blending the retro sound with modern pop, hints of electronic music and a darker undertone that’ll certainly keep long-time fans happy.
Theatrical and significantly more mature sounding than any of Black’s previous releases, The Ghost of Ohio is a loose concept album that follows the story of of someone who died young and whose spirit inhabits an area for a hundred years looking for ways to connect. It also serves as a semi-autobiographical account of Black’s adolescence as he explores his own childhood insecurities and anxieties. The lyrical content of the album, coupled with the spectacular songwriting makes for an album that almost plays like a movie. It feels epic and larger than life.
One of the strongest songs on The Ghost of Ohio is the second track, “The Promise,” which really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The track is complete with guitar and piano that make it sound like an 80’s rock ballad and effortlessly takes a step away from The Shadow Side to showcase quite a bit of growth from Black. The songs that follow successfully prove his versatility, as well. “Westwood Road,” for instance, takes on a more poppy, modern and upbeat sound while “Know One” and “Soul Like Mine” take on a more vulnerable and emotional tone. While “Know One” touches on letting the ones you love down, “Soul Like Mine” promises to become a fan-favorite anthem about loneliness and searching for someone who truly understands you.
Sonically, there isn’t necessarily a ton of consistency between some of the songs on The Ghost of Ohio, and if the album has any weakness, maybe that’s it. Lyrically, though, each song on the album ties together perfectly, weaving a hopeful story about finding a light in the dark, overcoming your struggles and coming out the other end a better person. The bright sixth track, “The Wind & Spark” is a perfect example of this, as Black swears, “Don’t wanna go to that dark place again / I’ll never go back to the darkness.” Meanwhile, songs like “Ghost of Ohio” and “Heroes We Were” sound absolutely nothing alike, but they sit perfectly side by side because of the way they further the story on the album. Another standout comes later on the album with the beautiful, honest love song, “Heaven.”
The great thing about The Ghost of Ohio is that it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be anything that it’s not. A wide variety of sounds and genres can be found on the album as Andy Black experiments with new sounds and really hones in on his ability to create timeless rock anthems. And lyrically, he opens up more than ever before. It’s apparent that Andy Black knows what he’s good at, but isn’t afraid to step outside of his comfort zone, and The Ghost of Ohio is a perfect example of this. The album tells a hopeful, honest story while expanding on his sound, and that’s honestly all one really hopes for when looking for a great album.
LISTEN TO: “The Promise” or “Soul Like Mine”
STAY CONNECTED WITH ANDY BLACK: https://www.facebook.com/officialandyblack/