Giving Up the Ghost

( 5 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
Some time before Jackie Greene released Giving Up the Ghost, he declared that he wanted a Top Ten hit. "I want a big song," he told an interviewer, adding "You're not a musician because you want to starve." There's no reason Greene shouldn't have that Top Ten as his talents are manifold -- as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist he's prodigiously gifted. But thus far that mainstream success has eluded him, and there's even been something of a backlash against him among the rockist cognoscenti, a rarity for an artist who has yet to truly break out. Giving Up the Ghost illustrates both why some are skeptical and why others can't seem to lavish enough praise on ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeff Tamarkin
Some time before Jackie Greene released Giving Up the Ghost, he declared that he wanted a Top Ten hit. "I want a big song," he told an interviewer, adding "You're not a musician because you want to starve." There's no reason Greene shouldn't have that Top Ten as his talents are manifold -- as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist he's prodigiously gifted. But thus far that mainstream success has eluded him, and there's even been something of a backlash against him among the rockist cognoscenti, a rarity for an artist who has yet to truly break out. Giving Up the Ghost illustrates both why some are skeptical and why others can't seem to lavish enough praise on him. Giving Up the Ghost follows three albums for the small Dig label and one for the larger Verve Forecast, and like those others, it's got riches to spare. Greene's writing has become more complex, both emotionally and structurally, without becoming verbose. He's meticulous and broad in his scope, drawing from numerous streams without being derivative: he has been compared to many of the greats yes, even Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, but those comparisons are neither fair nor necessary -- Greene can stand on his own. Working here with co-producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Greene elevates his new material into something super-sized -- not in a bloated, grandiose way, but rather as music that presents itself as important. And that is both its greatest attribute and where it runs into problems. There is no denying that Giving Up the Ghost feels just a tad dishonest, that its makers took perfectly mature, well-crafted songs and overcooked them in the studio with the aim of prepping and Greene-ing them for 20,000-seat arenas. Berlin reaches for the sky when there is no need to, at times actually overshadowing the intricacies of the songs; often the production approaches bombastic. That's not to say that Greene should aim lower: some of these songs, notably the delicate "Prayer for Spanish Harlem," the gutsy "Like a Ball and Chain," the forceful "Ghosts of Promised Lands," and "Animal," invite close listening and even study -- not because they are dense but because he's such a literate, smart writer that his music requires more than a cursory listen. That he can at times boil over into the obtuse and wordy is also true, however. On "Uphill Mountain," on which Greene name-checks the likes of Big Joe Turner and John Henry for no apparent reason, he sings, "Sometimes it gets a little rough like the wheel's made of steel going an uphill mountain/Better stand tall if you're gonna stand at all and if you're gonna fall, well you might as well fall." It's evocative, it invites pondering, and it's richly imagistic -- great qualities for any song, just maybe not for one that aims for the Top Ten. Greene can find the balance he wants, but he hasn't yet. There is potential greatness here, just as there has been since Greene was first introduced earlier in the decade, but Greene would have to dumb down to reach the sort of mass audience that creates a Top Ten single, and it would be a shame if he did. Already, there are signs here that he's willing to do that, but if he can just be himself, keep making music that is true to his heart and stop worrying about becoming a star, his audience will surely find him.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/1/2008
  • Label: 429 Records
  • UPC: 795041769428
  • Catalog Number: 17694
  • Sales rank: 136,424

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jackie Greene Primary Artist
Technical Credits
Jackie Greene Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Really good, but make sure you have "Sweet Somewhere Bound" first.

    I recommend this album with one slight reservation: his first one is better. Don't get me wrong, this is another great set of songs, but "Sweet Somewhere Bound" is by far my favorite from him. I hear he's great live, but I haven't had a chance to see for myself yet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Definite Favorite

    You'll love this album. Also, you must see a live show. Jackie Greene rocks the house. So much talent. It's time for him to receive all the recognition he deserves. His storytelling ability through his lyrics are some of the best, and instrumentally he raises the roof.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    booorrRRRRRRiiiing

    "Open mike night at Beau Jo's" is how a co-worker aptly described this bland, cliched and trite snore-fest of an album. If you love Matchbox20, Barenaked Ladies and Dave Matthews Band then you too will thrill to the offensively inoffensive sounds of this guy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    JACKIE DOES IT AGAIN !!!!

    Once again jackie soars to higher grounds. He sound is open and honest and gets you up off your back. Looking forward to seeing him at his cd release party and enjoying his lastest tunes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews