Album Review - Veruca Salt's "Ghost Notes"

By Allyson Bills

Veruca Salt has proved that time heals all wounds.  Before the original lineup dissolved in 1998, the Chicago-based quartet, comprised of Nina Gordon (guitar/vocals), Louise Post (guitar/vocals), Steve Lack (bass) and Jim Shapiro (drums), paved their way onto the Alternative rock scene in 1994 with their critically-acclaimed debut album American Thighs. After a hiatus, and time away from each other, Veruca Salt is back their first album with the original lineup since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You titled Ghost Notes. Ghost Notes was produced by Brad Wood, who also helmed American Thighs. The fourteen songs that are on Ghost Notes were originally written by this lineup from the 1990s, but went unfinished until this album.

It’s evident from the start that this album is Veruca Salt’s true follow-up to American Thighs because the chemistry is unreal between all the members. The first track, “Gospel According To Saint Me,” is an example of how every rock album should begin. It’s a very catchy rock anthem that signifies Veruca Salt’s comeback with Gordon and Post warning the listener, “It’s going to get loud // It’s going to get heavy.” She is right about this, because “Gospel According To Saint Me” is indicative of how the rest of Ghost Notes sounds.

Veruca Salt didn’t just write one rock anthem; they wrote an album’s worth of rock anthems.  “Eyes On You” really demonstrates the cohesiveness of both Gordon’s and Post’s vocals. After listening to this song, you would never know that these two weren’t on speaking terms for a good fifteen years. “Laughing In The Sugar Bowl” a guitar-driven track is the shortest one on the album, clocking in at 2:16, but it’s the mightiest. It’s in-your-face, but will stay in your head long after it’s over. Don’t be surprised if you hear this song on the radio because a “whole lot of love is coming on the radio.” “I’m Telling You Now” shows the most variety in their heavier tracks off Ghost Notes with it being quiet and mid-tempo with only the rhythm section of Lack and Shapiro, and heavy all into one song.

On Ghost Notes, Veruca Salt also nails the slower, mid-tempo songs, something that was missing from their previous efforts. Their idea of slower songs are ones that go from quiet to loud and back again. This works for them, and works very well. “Prince of Whales” is a great example of this because it opens with Lack and Shaprio, and then sears into Gordon’s and Post’s guitars in the 1:08th minutes of the song, and back into the rhythm section again.  The song clocks in at 5:35, which is long for a slower rock song.  However, “Prince of Whales” has just enough variety both vocally and musically in order to keep the track not stagnant.

The final track, “Alternica”, is another slower-sounding song that demonstrates Veruca Salt’s new-found chemistry with the buildup of Gordon and Post’s along a wall of sound. It’s almost atmospheric. I’m not usually keen when albums end on these types of songs. However, it makes sense that Ghost Notes ends with “Alternica” because it’s a song about finding your way back with the chorus of “In the the end // It comes around again.” “Alternica” is really fitting with Veruca Salt’s journey as a band, and I can’t think of a better song to end the album.

Ghost Notes is a solid comeback album for Veruca Salt’s original lineup. It’s clear from listening to the album that time away from each other revitalized everyone , and that they are finally able to enjoy the ride. The album has plenty of variety that will appeal to the old and new Veruca Salt album alike. Ghost Notes is must-have for your record collection. Welcome back, Veruca Salt.

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