Vanilla is the lead single from Ghost Maps’ début album The Ocean From The River.

The brainchild of Irish guitarist Jeff Martin, the song covers the same sort of warm, richly wistful ground as his previous work in instrumental band Halfset – though this time with Martin’s own vocals and lusher, more expansive production. Much of Halfset’s best stuff was crying out for a thoughtful vocal, and Vanilla sees Martin demonstrate an evocative, charmingly fragile singing voice. The song begins with a verse of his plaintive vocals, backed by starry guitars and muscular drums, before expanding into a radio-friendly chest-beater of a chorus.

The strings land just the right side of cheesily anthemic and there’s a comforting familiarity to the whole thing; the lyrics vaguely detail the regrets bound up with a failed relationship. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s pulled off with enough skill and sincerity to hit the spot.

…Martin could have a sleeper hit on his hands…

Positioned somewhere between the arena intimacy of Snow Patrol and Lamchop’s wonky jangle, Vanilla is the kind of tastefully anguished pop-rock which could catapult Ghost Maps into the dinner-party staple league with the right exposure – if the full album maintains this kind of crafsmanship, Martin could have a sleeper hit on his hands. Extra points for the video: it subtly criticises the way our constant access to smart phone and tablet connectivity affects actual, real, face-to-face interaction.

Vanilla is available here as a free download. The Ocean From The River is out on Casino Gravity.   



About The Author

Patrick Kilkelly writes about culture, travel and music. A Ph.D. candidate at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, he reads more about 19th century Korean grain tax reform than is healthy.

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