Ola Podrida - Ghosts Go Blind
Record Label: Western Vinyl
Release Date: April 30, 2013
One day David Wingo will get his due. More well known for his film scores (Mud, Take Shelter, The Sitter, Snow Angels, All The Real Girls, George Washington) than his Austin, TX ensemble Ola Podrida, the composer-cum-singer/songwiter-producer has quietly and steadily spun together two brilliant albums (2009's Belly of the Lion, 2007's Ola Podrida) so it shouldn't be a surprise that this year's Ghosts Go Blind is nothing short of stellar.
The albums open with the even-handed, mid-tempo effort "Not Ready to Stop," which crunches with Midwestern grit and features crystalline vocals and shimmering guitars. The song ostensibly stops at the 2:30 mark and settles into placidity. All along there's this imminent threat that the song will take off and rise again, but it never does, and yet despite that it still manages to climbs its way into the psyche. The honeyed and sweet "Fumbling for the Light" follows and it is both jangle and sweetly affecting. Wingo is at his best when he's earnest, sincere and amiable and "Fumbling for the Light" is exactly that kind of song.
Ghosts Go Blind's first real apex moment is the ringing and circular "Washing Away," which rises like a siren and has a Springsteen-esque quality from start to finish. "Blind to the Blues" is the penultimate cut on the first half and is equal parts yearning and contemplative. There's a heavy nod towards languor and the entire effort feels akin to a Pete Yorn b-side. Like a tonic, "Blind to the Blues" is a song to rest your worries on and the entire veneer is both solacing and assuaging. The first half closes it with the buzzy and titanic "Staying In," a sweetly hypnotic ode to domesticity that is absolutely spectacular. If this song doesn't get you moving, then Ola Podrida is not the band for you.
On the second half, Ghosts Go Blind opens with the circadian title track, a dusty and weary effort that is plaintive, defeated and arguably one of the best on the record. There's a sense of weary that feels definitely Midwestern, rustic and honest and it is for those very reasons that the song is well worth repeating. "Speed of Light" follows and it's punchy, radio-friendly and undeniable urgent. There are few songs on the album that deserve the term visceral, but "Speed of Light" is most definitely that song. The album's penultimate effort is the falsetto-laden "Some Sweet Relief," a gorgeous effort that proves what a truly gifted songwriter David Wingo truly is. The album closes out with the circular and belletristic "Notes Remain," which draws its strength from a dense guitar jam in the final 80 seconds.
Though many will probably bypass Ghosts Go Blind in favor of God knows what, they would do well to take 35 minutes and sit down with this record. Wingo didn't need to craft this album to prove his worth, but the fact that he did only adds another layer to his brilliance.