Atlanta-based folk singer-songwriter Diane Coll brings us her second release, Old Ghosts, which follows her debut in 2022, Happy Fish and other Delights and her 2023 EP Into the Fire. While the initial impression of the album may be dark and moody, certainly introspective, there are multiple healing messages and positivity herein. Consider that Coll is a mental health therapist. That point of view, healing oneself first by addressing old ghosts is the thread that runs through this cohesive album. Her vocals are pleasing and well-articulated as the focus is clearly on her lyrics. Musical support is rather spare with Coll and co-producer Daniel Groover playing most instruments while pedal steel and harmony vocals appear on select tracks.
These songs center around looking at oneself in the mirror, evaluating current and past states, and summoning the will to move forward. She deals with procrastination in a mere 43 words in the opening “Another Rhyme” with how one’s need to escape often never produces any tangible results and alienates the other partner in “When You Fly,” and how the impulsive obsessive nature of one can leave the other partner both cramped and stranded. The chorus “Move it on over, so I can breathe” is devastating in “Move It.”
“Before the Sung” is about carpe diem or said another way in that famous cliché – take time to smell the roses. The music is relaxing and supports her reassuring phrase “We will not fade away.” By contrast, she reveals her rock background in the driving single “I Don’t Know,” a ditty on existential contemplation and letting go not unlike Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow.” In fact, the opening and closing lyrics have those same words. She quickly turns ruminative again in the dark, moody “Slipping Away,” pondering “this boneyard of broken dreams” in a dissolved relationship.
A key track is “This Heart,” a deeply personal song about living with one’s choices and being both resilient and open-minded, as exemplified in the chorus line “This heart won’t turn to stone.” In yet another song about deep reflection Coll uses this image, the indigo eye of a lone candle flame to find comfort, as if to say that she can cast into that flame any experience or issue that no longer is relevant or helpful – “Glow candlelight/Caress the night.” That sets the stage for the title track, the most direct of any here, letting us know that the mirror doesn’t lie. The tune is set to a punchy beat, emblematic of turning that proverbial corner and make an honest self-assessment, which leads to the positive affirmation found in renewal of old friends in “Back in the Fold.” The lush, dreamy “One Lullaby” revels in a new, peaceful, refreshed outlook. Coll plucks her acoustic guitar in solo accompaniment for the deceptively simple “Love, Part II” with the haunting words addressed to love – “I’m not the one who failed you” lingering long after this soul cleansing, brutally honest and impactful album ends.
- Jim Hynes
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