on 8 May 2004
This recording was made during the mid-1990's when Bill Frisell hit a particularly rich stream of creativity with his popular album "Nashville" and his masterpeice, "Quartet" - arguably one of the most original records of the last ten years. To follow up these fantastic records with a solo album was a risk and, as I recall, the critical reviews that I read did not give the credit that "Ghost Town" deserved. There is alot of over-dubbing on the disc since Firsell employs a variety of guitars, a bass, a banjo and electronics with which to evoke his unique view of Americana. With the passage of time, this CD can now be seen as one of his finest.
The first half of the album is the most impressive and features some of Frisell's finest writing. Some of these tunes have been re-visited on subsequent albums, but these versions remain superlative. I am particularly fond of "Variations on a theme" that re-invents his earlier "Tales from the far side" and demonstrates what guitar technology is capable of today. Elsewhere, "Wildwood flower" harks back to folk traditions. Even other writer's music is re-moulded into typical Frisell territory. This is best illustrated by Hank William's "I'm so lonesome I could cry" that compares favourably with Cassandra Wilson's definitive version.
"Ghost Town" is more introspective that some of Bill Frisell's early recordings on Nonesuch. However, this music is, perhaps, more rewarding after repeated listening and makes frequent appearances on my CD player. There are few albums made during the 1990's that can compare to this effort for shear beauty. This is one of Bill Frisell's very best and those new to his music will find this a superior effort to his recent "Intercontinentals" that is not really typical of his output.
on 12 March 2001
I was first introduced to Frisell on NPR, where he played a few solo pieces. I must admit that he blew me away as I drove off to my lunch break. I decided that I MUST HAVEthe man's lastest album so today I picked it up. I've listened to the CD twice now and I'm still as excited about it as I was when I first heard Frisell on the radio. The melodies are haunting and beautiful and Frisell easily exposes the American Spirit through the vibrations of the strings on his guitars. I don't care if 'Ghost Town' isn't jazz -- and those that disregard this album because it doesn't sound like jazz are just cheating themselves out of a great musical experience.