It may be nearly 20 years since Pete Krebs has released new original material, but the wait was well worth it. Rising to notoriety in the mid 1990s as a co-founder, songwriter and vocalist for Portland-based alt-rockers Hazel along with performing in Golden Delicious, The Stolen Sweets, Pete Krebs and his Portland Playboys, The Catnip Brothers and now Pete Krebs and The Gossamer Wings, Krebs has undergone a barrage of life-altering experiences in the time since his releasing his last original material including a cancer diagnosis, moving to Europe and back and the loss of close friends and loved ones that have lent to the mix of sorrow and upbeat optimism within Krebs poetic lyricism ripe with melancholy on All My Friends Are Ghosts, out Saturday, Aug. 29, as part of the first of three Record Store Day drops.
Throughout those aforementioned life changes Krebs has stepped back from his prior gauntlet of performing 250+ shows a year to adopt a more workman’s like approach to being a musician, soaking up all he could about everything from punk rock to gypsy jazz, traditional country and pre-war jazz and adapting them into the melting pot of sounds on the album, making it the artist’s most diverse effort to date.
The 10-song compilation features cuts from Krebs both new and withheld for years and was recorded by Jon Neufeld in Portland, OR. The artwork for the album was painted by Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Jr. High, The Pynnacles, The Mistons), a seminal figure, author and musician in Portland. The Gossamer Wings feature veteran Portland musicians including members of Richmond Fontaine and The Decemberists.
Rattling around in Krebs’ brain for the last 20 years was the album’s title track “All My Friends Are Ghosts,” which contemplates the liberation of death as told by old drinking friends of Krebs who’ve passed on while glimmering guitars battle in the background before meandering into “Brightest Stars,” a tune with a rustic violin opening before and jug band elements about a beloved parental figure to Krebs whose unexpected and tragic death shook his faith in divine judgment. The album then takes another hard left turn on “Blue Horizon,” a song first inspired by Willie Nelson that turned into a homage to old Texas country and conjunto music with thick layers of pedal steel and accordion.
All My Friends Are Ghosts later takes a subtle punk rock turn on “I’m Just Searching For You,” an angsty story about the rapid changes occurring in Krebs hometown of Portland that has left locals shocked and in disarray.
Despite all of the sadness within All My Friends Are Ghosts the album ends on a positive note with “Be Happy Today,” and upbeat tune with a melody eerily similar to Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Puff The Magic Dragon” accompanied by joyful horns and handclaps with the message of staying positive even when life tries to bring you down, something we should all try our best to do despite the unprecedented circumstances we’re currently presented with due to COVID-19.
In addition to All My Friends Are Ghosts being available on vinyl as part of the Aug. 29 Record Store Day drop at independent record stores nationwide, the album will also be available to stream on all major platforms. https://www.heypetekrebs.com