Haunted Like Human – Tall Tales & Fables
What’s instantly noticeable on these 12 songs is they’re all recorded with pristine production. It does help when vocalist Dale Chapman (percussion) has meticulous vocal tone. Warm, & carved out of a traditional folk style but then, Ms. Chapman could probably sing anything.
Despite the musician lineup, the music is sparse. It seems their focus is mostly on the melody, lyrics & the general musicianship required to tell the tale. Like in the old days before acute musicianship was paramount & the songs were secondary. Not here. Chapman sings everything with elaborate beauty. “City By the Sea,” shimmers with descriptive lyrics, a gentle approach & a bright melodic spark.
Tall Tales & Fables (Drops Oct 15–Independent) was produced by Evan Laing & Mitch Dane (both percussion). The acoustic guitar picking breathes with clarity. The duo Haunted Like Human (Georgia-native Dale Chapman & Oregon-bred multi-instrumentalist Cody Clark – vocals/guitar/percussion/banjo) isn’t creating anything revolutionary or different. They indeed maintain a classical folk-traditional genre with nurtured vocals loaded with songs that tell stories constructed from reality with a wool-cotton texture.
“Run Devil Run,” features shared vocals. Avery Bright’s violin saws creepily along. This is all dug out of the deepest folk well that goes back to Appalachia, & beyond to roots in Britain hundreds of years ago. It’s intimate, personal & in some ways liberating. “Bruised Feet,” is jaunty with violin playing tag with Cody’s banjo. Other musicians: David Brock (drums/percussion), Kevin Whitsett (bass), Matt Nelson (cello), & Charlie Lowell (keys).
There isn’t anything gripping, sensational, & thankfully little that could be deemed bombastic. Clark & Chapman keep everything balanced in their showcase. There’s beauty to each. They don’t try to outsing past duos, write songs that are penetrating, dark & garish. “Ghost Towns,” while not as spooky as the title suggests is enduring.
There are no fiery solos, no surprises. It’s just good playing, good singing & fine-tunes that have no sharp edges. Though “Soothsayer,” has some punch & is more fully realized harmonically than some.
Chapman’s reliably warm vocals are engaging & establish the charm of the band. Even multi-instrumentalist Cody Clark doesn’t upstage with any musical transfusions. His male vocals are dispersed with clean accentuations of key lyrics & his expertise is evident.
“Whistling Tree,” as pleasant & intense as it seems skates too close to the edge of melodies familiar to many other aged folk songs from decades before. The performance is accomplished, well-sung but its viability hinges on the fervent plaintive memorable melody from some past traditional songbook tome.
Complex showmanship & impassioned depth in the solo areas are not always requirements for good music. This duo consistently performs with color & summon emotions without brimstone. They paint with broad strokes & are seldom dull. “Afterlife,” is mature & spirited. A great little song.
The color image courtesy of the duo’s Facebook. The 45-minute CD by Haunted Like Human has a stitched lyric insert. Available @ https://www.hauntedlikehuman.com/