Ghost Stories may mark the first album as The Whitmore Sisters, but Eleanor and Bonnie are certainly not novices to the Americana world. Bonnie already has four solo albums to her name and Eleanor has recorded just as many records with her husband Chris Masterson under the moniker The Mastersons. Not to mention that both are longtime members of Steve Earle’s band, The Dukes. Finally combining talents for the first time on record, the sisters offer a remarkable debut.
At the start of the global pandemic, Bonnie decamped to Los Angeles to be near her sister Eleanor and Chris. The close proximity, as well as plenty of downtime, gave the duo the push they needed to finally record an album together an idea they’ve been thinking about for decades. And while the album and its title are not a direct link to the COVID pandemic and the suffering it brought, there are still strong themes of death and loss throughout. The title track as well as “Friends We Leave Behind” are both hauntingly beautiful.
But that’s not to say Ghost Stories is just another sad pandemic record. “Hurtin’ for a Let Down” is a surprisingly peppy, irresistible song about inevitable heartbreak. They also turn in a stellar cover Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “Big Heart Sick Mind,” and a commendable take on the Paul McCartney-penned/Everly Brothers tune “On the Wings of a Nightingale.”
Along with being talented multi-instrumentalists and great singers on their own, the sisters create blissful harmonies together that few could achieve. Nowhere is this more evident than on the beautiful, slow tempo, but building album closer “Greek Tragedy.” There is a lingering sadness to their combined voices that makes the song so affecting. But despite some weighty themes, the album still manages to carry hints of optimism and moments of happiness throughout. Ghost Stories is a powerful record that should have been made a long time ago – but was well worth the wait.
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