The Ghost and the Guest is an interesting album that was recorded in a simple bedroom studio and was released last year by LDS artist Jake Workman. Loyal Linescratchers followers may recognize Jake from his days with the group “The Sweater Friends”. Prior to listening to this album, I had never heard any of his music, and knew little about him. So, it was with a completely fresh and unbiased perspective that I was able to sit down and listen to his music.
I reviewed the album in a digital download form and found that the download contained much more than just music. Graphics from the album are included, as is a scanned copy of a handwritten thank you note from Jake. Most interesting though was a large booklet, which was conveniently provided in a number of different e-reader formats. Right about here is where things started to get weird, interesting, or sentimental – depending on how you look at it. The included e-book comes in at over 40 pages. In the preface, we learn that the songs were inspired by the life of Henry Pickett Pratt, who was born in 1866, and left a journal about some of his early life – a journal which was read by Jake Workman. Something about this man and his experiences struck a chord (pun intended) with Jake, and provided the inspiration for the songs on the album. The e-book includes portions of the journal that provide a backdrop of sorts for the songs. Jake has intended for the journal and the music to be enjoyed simultaneously in order to get the full experience of what he intended to create and capture.
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When a member of The Aquabats! gives you free backstage passes to one of their shows just to give you a signed copy of his book, you know that he really feels strongly about the message contained therein, and that’s exactly what happened with A Sound Salvation: Rock N’ Roll As A Religion by Ian Fowles. As soon as he handed it to me, I opened it up to a random page and saw a large section on The Hold Steady, and knew I was going to love it. The basic premise of the book is that traditional religions in the United States, such as Christianity, have steadily declined over the last century, especially among young people, and that, for many, Rock N’ Roll has taken its place. Fowles argues that Rock N’ Roll is not just a past-time; for some, it functions precisely in the way religion does for its adherents.
This is not a new idea. Most scenies, hipsters, and people in the musical community are aware that some approach Rock N’ Roll religiously, devoting their time and energy to it and hailing its saints as more than human. Fowles’ book is unique in that it makes a point-by-point argument for this idea, using the definition of religion from the Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Eliade. Though I was skeptical at first, his entertaining and easy-to-read book had me fully convinced by the end, with one crucial qualification, noted below. Interested readers and fans of Ian Fowles might want to know that the first run of 300 copies are all hand-numbered and signed by the author. The link to get a copy is at the bottom of this review. Continue Reading →