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  • Tom H

John The Ghost | I Only Want To Live Once (debut album)

Have you ever stumbled upon an artist whose music immediately blows you away and you ask yourself, "How have I not discovered this until now?" Case in point is John The Ghost, the solo project of singer-songwriter John O'Callaghan, who is also the frontman of Phoenix alt-rock/post-punk band The Maine. The nine tracks on his brilliant new solo album, I Only Want To Live Once, have been consuming a great deal of my listening time over the past month or so. This is one of the most engaging and impressive albums I've come across this year.

The musical presence of John The Ghost first materialized in 2016 as musician John O'Callaghan continued to hone and polish his songwriting skills, working with song ideas, stems and lyrics that lived in his creative space in between The Maine albums. Sincerely, John The Ghost, John's debut EP release, gave listeners a first taste of his solo work. This first EP is breathtaking, by the way - with gorgeous, gentle-paced and atmospheric compositions presented in a smooth, guitar-based, indie rock style.

Four years passed before John The Ghost would release new solo music. His first new offering took the form of an upbeat single, entitled "Rolled Down Window," in April 2020. The onset of the pandemic and increased abundance of creative time yielded additional single releases ("Live Once," "Drive," "The Patterns") and eventually a full album's worth of incredible new music.

I Only Want To Live Once encompasses a variety of modern alt-rock/indie musical styles, with innovative, top notch mix and production by Matthew Keller. The best single word I can use to describe this album is "ALIVE." The songwriting is stellar, the hooks immediately pull you in, and the lyrics are existential, bold, comforting and relatable. These songs will easily become welcome earworms to inspire and ease you through your day-to-day existence.

Tracks like "Live Once" and "Here/Gone (feat. DeWayne)" (my pick for favorite track) are both energized and motivational, reminding us that life is short, should not be taken for granted, and that we need to grab the reins and keep the focus on our life dreams. "Drive" is the perfect, soothing soundtrack for getting in the car and just driving where the road takes you, leaving your troubles behind in the rear view mirror. The beautiful melody, dreamy atmosphere and poignant lyrics of closing track "8" will pull at your heartstrings. I haven't called them all out in this post, but trust me when I say that every single song on this album is brilliant.

While you're still with me, let me also suggest taking a listen to John's "main" band, The Maine (pun intended). I'm still exploring their catalog, but I'm loving what I'm hearing. The Maine's forthcoming album, XOXO, is scheduled for a July 2021 release, with two outstanding singles ("Sticky," "April 7th") having already been released.

I leave you with the official John The Ghost music video for "Drive," directed by Lupe Bustos. This is a great sunset/evening-themed visual to accompany the music and song lyrics.

For more information about John The Ghost, visit the official band website, follow on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) and find John The Ghost's music on Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.

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