Out of print for far too long, Ghosts of the Great Highway is a timely reminder of the power and emotion Mark Kozelek's music once had. This was his first 'group' record post Red House Painters and is seen as one of his best. With a band featuring Anthony Koutsos (Red House Painters), Tim Mooney (American Music Club), the album fine tunes Kozelek's previous poetic sadcore with a healthy dose of Americana. Vinyl reissue contains original bonus track 'Gentle Moon'.
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There was a time when Mark Kozelek’s music meant a whole lot more, when his voice was sweeter and his lyrics comparatively shorthanded. This was it. It was a time when we actually cared about his dad.
‘Ghosts of the Great Highway’ was his first record under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, having retired Red House Painters after ‘Old Ramon’. In a way, it feels like it was a long time coming -- I can see another world in which ‘Songs for a Blue Guitar’ would have been the first record under his Boxer alias, offering the very same nylon-string strums and pastoral affectations. Still, here it is, the first one, and the best Kozelek record by a country mile -- compared to the gruelling slowcore of old and the non-stop commotions of new, this record flies by, every moment an intuitive, melodic masterstroke. And it's still slow.
You could never expect me to listen to a fourteen minute Koz song in 2018, but I could happily listen to “Duk Koo Kim” forever -- its interplay of blue distortion, shambling nylon guitar and meandered emotional plea is all ‘Ghosts’ ever needed to be. I'm done wasting words on this phenomenal idiot now, but this record is the one -- and it comes with a bonus track that's just an acoustic version and definitely not a treatise on which local Ohian coffee shop has offended Kozelek's refined tastes this week.
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