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Mike Grogan Mike Grogan
Album: Too Many Ghosts
Label: Poacher
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.mikegrogan.co.uk

Following the trend set by its predecessor, 2013's 'Make Me Strong', 'Too Many Ghosts' is another conceptual set of songs. Embracing he fragility of life and love, the ten songs don't dwell on the obvious melancholy but look optimistically to the future together with a mid album karmic message on 'Hallelujah' about doing the right things and not being blinded by the superficialities of life. Although predominantly a writer and performer with solo guitar accompaniment and voice, the songs are set amidst some light touch band arrangements.

Again, recorded and produced by Mark Tucker, it's may be his his Show Of Hands connections which may have held some influence in bringing in guest appearances from Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes (not like Knightley to miss out…) plus Rabbit Bundrick from The Who and The The's James Eller. One of several multi-instrumental appearances, it's Phil's fiddle making an impact on a subject close to his heart 'Big Ships'. 'Show Them What Love Can Do' delivered with the sort of passion you'd find; close your eyes and not for the first time, the Phil Beer instrumental influence giving a very SoH feel in a South Wales/West Country hybrid.

In a mix of memorable melodies and potential singalong moments, the easy Americana country vibe of 'Too Many Ghosts' and the uplifting, almost religious inspiration provided by the massed choir of the Green Man Folk Club provide immediate highlights. Then there's the sentiment in the message of hope 'Wish You', one which is deceptively simple yet deeply effective in its meaning. Perhaps the simplest yet the most effective song on the record in terms of the general philosophy and theme of reflection. A close run thing though, with the Bundrick strings adding an extra dimension to the darker and despondent lyric of 'Underground'. Placed next to the bright and lively 'Heaven Is Here' it provides the contrast which is at the root of the album. One which is rounded off dreamily in 'Goodnight' - which in another pair of hands might be interpreted as a lullaby - indeed it almost hits that marker in the second verse.

'Too Many Ghosts' might seem an untaxing listen, yet with its simply eloquent messages, is one which certainly emerges as a grower and ultimately a thought provoking forty minutes

Mike Ainscoe