Hearing Aide: Buddy Black and The Ghost Umbrellas ‘The Story on the Road to Waterloo’

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Buddy Black and The Ghost Umbrellas have returned with their latest release, The Story on The Road to Waterloo (A Vampire Love Story in Three Acts). The new release speaks volumes of abstract mysteriousness and musical maturity for the blossoming band from Toronto. The lyrics are delivered with an outpouring surge of emotion as Buddy Black’s voice serves as the perfect vessel to do the music justice. Peeling away at the many layers of Black’s lyrics will take the listener down a rugged and untraveled road, meandering through many twists and turns of darkness. The music compliments Black’s vision well and at times morphs into its own unique form of basic, acoustic folk forming sounds that could be skyrocketed into a punk rock feel at any given moment. The range of this band is impressive and the energy encapsulated in the studio will truly translate to the live atmosphere.

This album marks the first official release for the band in over a year. The chemistry between Black and long time friend and multi-instrumentalist Dayne Polny is remarkable. Polny has not only found a well-rounded niche in the Ghost Umbrellas but he’s also been involved in nearly every one of Buddy Black’s numerous backing bands and side-projects.

The story opens with the self titled track “The Story on the Road to Waterloo”, the simplicity behind the music and the gruff lyrics could easily be a carousing soundtrack to sailors who’ve finally returned home to land after years at sea. “Emily” provides a splash of optimism as the message behind the music is generally upbeat and while the song is inspired by love there’s still a glimpse of darkness behind the passion.

“You Need To Know” serves as the perfect bridge for the story as this is one of their most well composed numbers. The acoustic guitar is anchored by a slide guitar painting a message over the heartbeat drumming section. There’s nothing more satisfying than when an artist successfully blends two genres together. Most often this sort of accomplishment is done without rhyme or reason, or on accident. Buddy Black and The Ghost Umbrellas have managed to fuse a heavy punk/indie foundation with elements of folk and acoustic guitar inspired ballads. “You Need To Know” is complete with a soft acoustic interlude before the rest of the band comes back in with authority. The chilling backing vocals also help lift the song to monumental peaks of raw emotion.

As the album continues to progress the music becomes more electric driven and heavy. “Renfield Would Approve” and “Fuck You and Goodbye” flow nicely into one another and while they’re both under three minutes each both songs pack a punch and are packed full of energy and emotion. While the volume may go to 11, none of this is a distraction from Black’s astonishing vocals or melodic compositions. There’s a lot of substance behind the music as Black’s voice is every bit unique and powerful. The album closes with “Can the Circle Be Unbroken?” another full band sing-a-long that’s catchy music still leaves listeners pondering alternate meanings embedded in the lyrics.

Currently the band is touring extensively through Canada as well as finding time to write and rehearse new material. The band is also preparing for a live release later this year. Until then, fans can catch them on the road as Buddy Black and the Ghost Umbrellas are a genuine force to be reckoned with. Successfully fusing two sacred genres, the band is breaking through into new ground that very few artists even dare to explore.

Key Tracks: You Need To Know, Emily, The Story on the Road to Waterloo

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