Review Summary: ‘Ghosts’ is hauntingly Australian like a possum scampering across you room at night startling you whilst you lay in your bed...
Ian Lilburne is truly a man haunted by epic tales of love and his past, which has finally seen him focus all this accumulated energy into releasing his debut album ‘Ghosts’. For those left wondering who Ian Lilburne is, he is a little known West Australian folk influenced singer-songwriter who has seemingly released his first major collection of tracks as a means of therapy. The songs found on ‘Ghosts’ are all written by Lilburne at different points of his life, ranging from 1983 up to 2005 and even if he never gains much success from this release, it’s still a rather special affair. I’m not saying this as a negative put down, but his music gives off a vibe that he is a humble man who doesn’t want the upmost reaches of stardom. ‘Ghosts’ consists of a blend of timeless pop-folk songs, with blues and country nuances thrown in for good measure. Lilburne leads from the front with his Spanish guitar doing most of the talking whilst a plethora of talented musicians provide backup.
Lilburne himself accurately sums up how he feels about ‘Ghosts’ quoted in the albums booklet saying that “These songs have been haunting me for a long time. Some are fictions, some based on actual events, all of them the wraith-like traces of things I once thought and felt.” Haunting is the most vital word in this statement that describes the overall vibe of the entire album, but importantly the opener ‘Ghost’. This track begins off slowly with only Lilburnes low voice and his guitar evident with a lap-steel adding to the atmosphere. Lilburne’s voice is low, soft and delivered with a retrospective feel which shortly gets joined by soft drumming. The lower timbre of his voice continues crooning into the next number ‘The Border’ where the pace picks up a notch. The drumming and soft Spanish guitar played by Lilburne return to retain the albums organic feel. At time Lilburne sounds like a mix of Micheal Stipe and Tim Freedman whilst delivering another round of sharp, heartfelt poetic lyrics recounting memories from his past. ‘The Border’ builds on what was seen in the opener and adds backup female vocals, loops, plodding bass and even a Spanish guitar solo.
‘This Into Something’ is the first single cut from the record and rightfully so. It returns to the use of actual drumming, leaving the beats on the backburner for the time being. Lilburne again rounds up his troops of some of Perth’s finest musicians and delivers a slow, sunny rocker aided by mandolin chimes over the top which creates much more depth. ‘This Into Something’ is an unforced, hooky number about summer love on the west coast and creates some vivid imagery, whilst being delivered as the catchiest set of lyrics found on the entire album. The songs lively chorus melody forces itself into your memory so it’s remembered and constantly hummed. It’s open, honest, relatable and overall evocative. The sense of intimacy is excelled here when during singing Lilburne joking laughs at the end of one of his sentences to again show off his harmless nature. The remainder tracks from the album all follow a similar note but the highlight by far is the track ‘Get Naked’. After experimenting with beats and loops for most of the previous songs on the album ‘Get Naked’ sees a return to actual drumming and some bass that seems to give Lilburne a bit more grunt. Lilburnes voice here is aggressive and gravelly for the first time on the record, which makes him seem edgier. Backup singers provide some fitting vocal overlays and some moans which add to this passionate fiery song about pleasure.
Overall, Ian Lilburnes debut effort ‘Ghosts’ is a pleasing affair, which requires a number of listens to truly appreciate it. Time is what was given to create this album, so time is what you need to invest in it. Lilburnes lyrics are honest, passionate and often poetic. Mix this with soft Spanish influenced guitar, fitting musicianship and interesting beats, ‘Ghosts’ becomes a truly interesting experience. Lilburne has crafted an album intimate to the point that it’s clear his released this for himself and anyone who happens to listen and enjoy is an added bonus. ‘Ghosts’ is hauntingly Australian like a possum scampering across you room at night startling you whilst you lay in your bed. But once you realise it was just a possum you can move on without fear and enjoy it for what it was.