Love and loss have similar vibes
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, June 29, 2012
Jukebox the Ghost’s third album, “Safe Travels,” opens on the dance floor. “Somebody” is sleek, upbeat and unusually direct for the trio, featuring falsetto vocals and an Afro-disco lilt.
But the song includes ornate touches that foretell where the album is headed. The D.C.-rooted New York band is paying close attention to contemporary developments, but it hasn’t stopped emulating 1970s types who melded rock with pop, and sometimes even with hymns and light opera.
Tommy Siegel, who wrote five of the songs, is a guitarist. But it’s the piano of Ben Thornewill, who wrote the other eight, that anchors the band’s sound, even when it’s bolstered by a string section. Most of the tracks feature full arrangements, but when those are stripped away, the material reveals affinities with cabaret (“Man in the Moon”), gospel (“The Spiritual”) and Broadway show tunes (“All for Love”).
The giddiest numbers are fueled by love, whether good or bad. “Oh, Emily” is positively rapturous, even if it is about a breakup.
The band also addresses various kinds of loss, such as the mortgage-foreclosure crisis in “Ghosts in Empty Houses.” That track is bubbly, too, showing that the group can dance its way through just about anything.