[Scroll down to stream the album while you read]
One of the beauties of this media is that the possibility to find sound treasures is as high as a hippie in the sixties: pretty damn high. That’s how any boring Sunday morning can become the day when you found out your favorite band was just waiting for you to click the right link or write the ironically incorrect typo.
That’s how I ran into Roadkill Ghost Choir, an incredibly sounding and crafted folk-rock machine. But that’s another story to talk about when they finished putting the last touches on their first album. We’re here to talk about their lead singer, Andrew Shepard. Upon finding Roadkill Ghost Choir’s Drifter video for Off The Avenue, it had a link to another song, specifically Shepard’s acoustic demo for Bird In My Window (I Don’t Mind), with some footage from one of the band’s shows.
That was the moment of realization, this was something beautiful, one of those songs that keeps folk music alive. After contacting Andrew, he showed me the rest of his EP Winter Demo, and it was clear this was something small and special that had to be shared and enjoyed by some more people. Maybe your hearts would get warmer now that the summer is dying and winter is coming, we all could have a beautiful soundtrack for the whole icy winter blues.
Andrew Shepard recorded ‘Winter Demo’ live at North Avenue Studios and released in December of 2010 as a gift to his family during the holidays, all of this prior to the formation of his band. So this gift to his family became a gift to himself and the rest of us. A genius EP, wrapped in honesty, with just a guitar, his voice (similar to Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold) and really dark and self-exploring howling lyrics.
The EP opener, Bird In My Window (I Don’t Mind), is about the perception towards the sense of abandonment and lack of caring life sometimes seems to have on us. Though there’s a surprisingly depressing sensation throughout the verses, the chorus lines But hey, I don’t mind uplift the spirit of the listener and the way they are sang are heartbreaking. A perfect song for the most imperfect of times.
And The Sun Goes Down is an apocalyptic ode to the masses, in a Dylan’esque kind of way. Just as A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall talked about the nuclear war and its effects or The Times They Are a-Changin’ talked about the political power of change within the youth, this song exposes the end of an era with the metaphor of the sun going down. An era we are living, with the media and its presenters talking about and on behalf of religion and power, telling the do’s and don’ts we ought to live for and the overwhelming force of will the humans have to change it all around. A will to change something and even dying for it.
The third installment, In The Lion’s Mouth, embraces the loss of life, friends, home, love and opportunities. A loss worthy of last goodbyes and fare-thee-wells. It feels like a defeated soldier’s swan song, welcoming the disappearance of his whole after a long wearing battle against everything and everyone. The lion appears to be the end of life itself and the chorus In the lion’s mouth, where the sun don’t shine, take a long, deep breath and say your goodbyes is sung with a wailing chant and evoking a last breath, just as if the lion had just closed its mouth, ending a life.
In the last song, Judas Tongue, the lyrics wrap us in the role of a self-aware villain. The role of the victim is put aside in this theme. The recollection of material goods, fame, fortune, favors and elitism is all that matters to the Judas character. A character who believes life is all we have to care about and death is another matter someone else has to worry about when all is done, for he has hopes there’s nothing after life on earth. Just in case there is something else afterwards, this Judas does all he can to die in a bed of wealth, just as the lines Bury yourself under money and faith, till the pressure’s so great you cannot be saved. This is an interesting take on the evil and greedy side of human nature.
This writer doesn’t know how or why this handful of songs came to Andrew Shepard as a perfect holiday family present, since cheap sweaters and last-second wrapped-up candies and chocolates seem to be the norm for most everyone else. But now, this is his early holiday gift to everyone willing to give it a go to a little great album, the first ray of the breaking down of a brilliant career for both Andrew Shepard and Roadkill Ghost Choir. These songs would become the foundation to their beginning in early 2011. The six piece Florida band is now preparing to release their debut EP ‘Quiet Light’ in the near future.
One had to love the fact that the title ‘Winter Demo’s does no justice to the quality of this EP. It’s brilliant, simple, straightforward and breathtaking music. True talent, worth sharing.
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
Senior Writer } OurVinyl