We are fortunate here at ninebullets that we have many artists submit their music to us for review. Often the submittals are accompanied by a brief bio about the artist. When I read the bio for Novak that she was a petite spitfire that happened to be a former boxer, well I was intrigued. A bio is designed to separate an artist from the pack and get the album listened to, not unlike a cover letter on a resume getting a candidate an interview. In this case it worked and after listening to the first few songs on Chasing Ghosts I knew it was a record I wanted to review and, hopefully, expose to a few more people.
Novak lives in Birmingham, Alabama and plays fiddle, usually, backing up other musicians. On Chasing Ghosts, Novak steps into the spotlight with her first album as a solo artist. With songs about murder, love, regret, and the kind of obsession that would impress the NASA diaper lady, Novak strikes all the right notes on her exciting debut. Reminiscent of 70’s era Dolly Parton or contemporary Amanda Shires, Chasing Ghosts is the kind of Country Music album that needs to be listened to by people that complain real Country Music died sometime between 1979 and Garth Brooks’ Chris Gaines record.
“Highway Song” is the moody, excellent, first track and, possibly, the best song on the album. It’s a song about twisted roads, roadside white crosses, and Goddamn Birmingham; with tension as thick as Alabama humidity and as unforgiving as that mean ol’ highway Cooley sings about. This song fits comfortably with the darker, grittier, side of ninebullets music and has been played on Autopsy’s ninebullets radio show. “Wanted” is kind of song that Townes Van Zandt wrote and Johnny Cash would sing, about a lawman being on your trail and he won’t stop until you are six feet underground. “Wanted” references Robert Frost’s famous poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” but I prefer to think of it as referencing The Outsiders. Stay gold, Ponyboy. Chasing Ghosts ends with the one-two punch (see what I did there?) of “Burn it Down” and “Wild Horse”, songs about loving the wrong ramblin’ man and the sadness that love can bring.
I’m drawn to Chasing Ghosts because several of the songs remind me of the type of Country Music I’d hear my relatives play when I was a little kid. Minor keys, heart tugging lyrics, mournful slide guitar, haunting fiddle, sorrowful vocals, murder, deceit, damn wayward men and strong defiant women, all adds up to one hell on an album for sad bastards like me. Ms. Novak shines on her debut album and is more than ready for the spotlight. I look forward to hearing what she comes up with next. Chasing Ghosts is essential listening
Chasing Ghosts is available on Amazon and iTunes.