The ex-Sugababe's second album puts her firmly in the spotlight.
Al Fox 2007
Having arguably spent the best part of her career slipping under the radar, you’d be forgiven for expressing surprise at the return of Siobhan Donaghy. Yet, not only is she back, she’s evidently spent that time away developing herself and her sound, and is ready to let the world know – once and for all – exactly what she’s got.
Ghosts has a far stronger identity than debut Revolution In Me, which, although a highly adept piece of work, was simultaneously a confused hotchpotch of indie-lite uncertainty. Donaghy functions far more effectively in the more streamlined, tranquil bubble she’s fashioned herself here.
In spite of “Don’t Give It Up” beginning life as an enjoyably baleful creep-a-long before melting into a sticky sub-Kate Bush puddle of a chorus, the remainder of Ghosts exhibits a craftsmanship and an elegance to turn heads, win admirers and give Donaghy the spotlight she’s long deserved.
Take, for instance, “Coming Up For Air”, a spectacle of sharpness within a honeyed setting, or “Goldfish”, a trippy hymn with a captivating refrain, both of which lay testament to an expansive talent and a fascinating album.
Throughout, Donaghy displays the matchless air of enigma she’s maintained since “Overload”. That’s not to say Ghosts is in any way shrouded or emotionless – rather, it’s astutely controlled to keep that ambiguity at just the right level, and notably, not in a manner that feels contrived or fabricated. Ghosts feels like a very natural display of Donaghy’s coyness.
That is, until you reach “12 Bar Acid Blues”, which all but obliterates any assumptions you might hold about the album or about the woman herself. A cordial, comedic and uber-literal tale of catching mini cabs, booking holidays online, and allusions to diarrhoea (no, really). And while it may not be in keeping with the rest of the material, it’s a side to Donaghy and a buoyant sound that both deserve to be investigated further.
Liquid-like, mature, sophisticated pop, with just the right balance of dreamy fantasy and terse grit, Ghosts is a veritable work of art. Perhaps she left a then-failing band prior to their global success. Perhaps her first solo album underachieved massively. But now is the time for Siobhan Donaghy to shine, and if Ghosts can’t help her do just that, we’re all doomed.