Luke Yeoward – Ghosts (Half Way)

For his first solo effort, former King Cannons frontman has made an album that will surprise and possibly frustrate fans but, ultimately, will be a hit in the Outback bars of Red Dust Australia. 

Inspired by Joe Strummer, Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen, Yeoward chose to go it alone last year, leaving the Cannons after many years.  And at the same time also leaving the high energy rock the band made in favour of a more mature AOR sound.

Indeed, this crowdfunded effort is a departure from the hurtling, bombastic sound of his former crew.  Kicking off with the Ghosts, a not too unsubtle reference to his previously suppressed creativity, you can hear the deft influence of the Boss in the rhythm and in the vocals.  Their strong, masculine vocals are not dissimilar.

Although it has anti-Trump overtones, it’s not hard to pick the very working class American flavour of the title track – a very clear nod towards Asbury Park, the decline of the workin’ man and the groove of the E Street Band.

Yeoward borrows from most of Springsteen’s repertoire – you can tell he was listening to The River when he wrote Let You Down and On Hoover Street. He must have had Born in The USA on high rotate during the recording session because it sounds a lot like the Boss’ I’m On Fire.  It’s all too easy to find the similarities.  I wish it wasn’t.

While most of this album is about flannel rock his best turn is during the Strummer/Clash influenced Cool Water. This track could have easily been snatched off the back of any 70’s Reggae record.  With a steady chugging ska beat mixed with Yeoward’s heavy vocal rasp it’s his most convincing moment.  And that’s repeated on the very Marley-styled Halfway, which also kicks it as a riotous piece.  Hell, even Michael Franti my feel a little bit pleased with this tune.

To break up the pub-rock he tries his hand at a slow ballad.  Whose Side Are You On is a nice slow one-sided conversation led by simple, stripped back guitars, slightly influenced by Rock’n’Roll revivalist Chris Isaak.  I can see this one working really well in the raw as a live solo but on this recording but it’s all just a little too slick and smooth.  It could do with some roughing up to really sell it.  That could also be said for the rockabilly grunted Lookin’ for Heaven.  I can’t say there’s anything particularly bad about this tune, except that its very close to a hundred others that I’ve heard over the years.

My real beef is with producer J Bonner (The Black Emeralds) and his treatment of the production on this album.  Apparently, the whole thing was recorded straight onto 8 track in a LA location using vintage equipment.  But somewhere along the way the sound got all too clean.  The rough edges have been smoothed up and the splinters removed.

I know everyone bangs on about authenticity and credibility when it comes to music.  That’s because you need to hear it to really feel it.  There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this album.  These songs are good, strong Ocker Rockers (even though Yeoward’s actually a Kiwi) that would go down well in any public bar on either side of the Ditch.  But It’s all a bit bland at times.  A bit too neat and tidy.  What’s really required is about four or five whiskeys and an altercation in the back alley to really get the party going.

Tim Gruar