The Ghost Ensemble
Brian Brody & the Ghost Ensemble are a collaboration between singer-songwriter Brian Brody and composer Simon Quigley. They create and perform songs of love, loss and hope, shaped around Brody’s big baritone voice. Creating a dynamic akin to Scott Walker and Elvis Costello’s ‘Juliette Letters’ with the Brodsky quartet. Together, they have performed Scott 4, Scott Walker’s seminal album and this, in part, has carved out their sound.
The experience of discovering new talent at the Wexford Arts Centre is invariably a rewarding one. Particularly when the artists exhibit both the skill and the creative foresight to bypass that which is predictable. Such was the case with the debut performance by Brian Brody and the Ghost Ensemble, which featured collaborations with Musici Ireland and Simon Quigley.
The concert’s success was remarkable considering Brody’s inaugural rehearsal with Musici Ireland occurred merely hours before. The synergy between the ensemble, Brody’s adept handling of his guitars, most notably the electric. Quigley’s dynamic performance on the keyboard was nothing short of enchanting. Anita Mahon, a vocalist from Wexford, graced the stage for two compositions, introducing an additional layer to the rich musical tapestry.
Brian Brody’s presence on the stage was compelling, supported by a sonorous baritone. A suite of poignant original compositions that explored a breadth of themes, including romantic love and mental health issues. This repertoire was interspersed with a cover of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ as well as a faithful rendition of Scott Walker’s ‘Duchess’, demonstrating both range and homage within Brody’s artistry.
A beguiling cello lead the way into ‘Alone’, a lockdown song about serious depression. While ‘Against the Demons’ dealt with a similar topic and Quigley’s swelling synth breathed real fire into ‘This Hell I Roam’. ‘To Die with A Smile’ linked some Leonard Cohenisms with Edith Piaf. While ‘Black Romance’, Painting Skies’ and ‘A Lover’s Lullaby’ were all big winners with the Wexford Arts Centre audience. Quigley’s own ‘Secondary Citizens’, laden as it is with relevant contemporary social and political observations.
Brody’s work has been compared with Elvis Costello’s Juliette Letters. But he has a broader vocal range than Costello and a warmth that takes him closer to the afore-mentioned Cohen and Walker while retaining his artistic individuality. There was every sense that those who attended the first staging of these songs were in at the beginning of something quite intriguing. We will be watching where it all leads.