Portland, Maine-based band The Ghost of Paul Revere departs from the bluegrass roots of their debut LP, Believe, for a more focused, studio-driven approach in their latest release, Monarch. The foot-stomping trio of high school dropouts creates more complex compositions and dives into bolder lyrical themes in the new album, sealing their likeness to folk-pop bands such as The Avett Brothers and The Bills. While Monarch is certainly a step forward, The Ghost of Paul Revere still feels like a band in the wrong century, which is just one of their many lovable qualities.
In their first two releases, Believe and the EP North, The Ghost of Paul Revere was limited to just the three original members and their respective instruments and vocals: Max Davis on banjo, Sean McCarthy on bass, and Griffin Sherry on guitar. Monarch boasts the addition of many more instruments, allowing the creation of grand productions such as “Avalanche” and “Welcome Home.” While they can no longer be deemed minimalistic, the band sacrifices none of the anachronism that first hooked listeners in 2012.
Monarch is reminiscent of a time passed, fit to be the soundtrack for some long lost sequel to O Brother Where Art Thou? However, the trio’s many lyrical motifs tackle issues applicable to and ever-present in the modern world. Many tracks deal with growing up, and the melancholy that often accompanies coming of age. In “Montreal,” the group harmonizes through the chorus, reciting “Are we growing apart/Or are we growing up?/Are we in a waking dream/Or are we waking up?” The melodrama of the lyrics are appropriately accompanied by whining harmonica and a softly-plucked melody from Sherry’s guitar.
There is no apparent leader or frontman for The Ghost of Paul Revere, with each singer sharing equal time in every track. This creates a common three-verse structure to nearly every song. Rather than making the album feel repetitious, each singer brings their own unique style, both lyrically and vocally to their individual verses, generating the illusion of a complex and dynamic arrangement.
The Ghost of Paul Revere is constantly compared to their folk contemporaries such as Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers. However, their latest release is certainly unique and distinguishable, begging to be stamped with their own signature. While the twangy banjo and occasional screeching fiddle in Monarch won’t cater to every listener’s particular taste, The Ghost of Paul Revere has succeeded in producing an approachable and complete record that is hard not to sing along to.