For Immediate Release:
In November of 2016, Tyne Darling (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA) will release a second, full-length studio album entitled, These Ghosts. Powered by deconstructed hooks and melodic arrangements, These Ghosts offers personal insights ripe with reflection on cultural and social issues, as well as existential considerations, which showcase thoughtfully-crafted lyrics. These Ghosts follows Tyne Darling’s Eric “Roscoe” Ambel-produced,The Secret November, and seeks to further build upon genre-bending stylistic approaches and songwriting methodologies. The nine songs that comprise These Ghosts metaphorically demonstrate how one's worldview can simultaneously shape and be shaped by one's experience.
Tyne Darling is the musical and stage moniker for the writer and artist, Tommy Vollman, whose fiction and non-fiction has been published in magazines, journals, and other outlets in both the United States and Europe. Vollman’s forthcoming novel, entitled Tyne Darling, further blurs the lines between overlapping creative aspects. Conceptually, each song on These Ghosts has a companion short story (either currently published or in the process of publication) that further comments and elaborates upon embedded song themes and constructs.
Recorded primarily on the road at spaces across America including Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmot, the St. James Hotel in New Orleans, and NYC’s Ludlow, These Ghosts showcases textures and dimensions that reflect the notion that while individual experiences are implicitly unique, aspects of the human condition push people toward recognizable faces, reminiscent landscapes and spaces, or messages seemingly heard before. As a result, a level of commonality emerges where one can find a certain sense of paradoxical stability within the very nature of change. The underlying message, then, is one of hope—an acknowledgement of the power to both affect and be affected by one’s own experience and that of others. These Ghosts channels Tyne Darling's energetic and straightforward live performances and incorporates a multi-instrumental compositional approach.
"The process was pretty strange, to be honest,” states Tommy Vollman. "I put these songs through the paces—touring, demoing, editing, rewriting, and reconfiguring them multiple times. While the process made sense—in a systematic way—the very nature of this type of approach has, prior to this record, been rather foreign to me. Normally, I write a batch of songs, tour on them briefly, then make a record. This time, I sat on the songs—I got to know them, inside and out. I tested and challenged them, which in turn, tested and challenged me. What survived—or rather what emerged—is These Ghosts. The record—the songs—proved they had a life of their own. I became a sort of facilitator, really.”
These Ghosts stays true to The Secret November's efforts to balance the traditional, open-ended rock ethos with Americana attributes. The songs work to honor their functional and theoretical origins. For example, “Valentine Heart", the record's opening track, builds steadily, then evolves into a crescendo-type chorus. The song, based upon a Vollman-penned short story, “Miscarriage”, examines the after-effects and residual thoughts surrounding the loss of an unborn child. The chorus issues pleas to “stay young, forever” and ruminates upon the sensibilities of experience and their seeming insignificance in the face of death and tragedy. Overall, the song works to obliterate the paradigm of perceived powerlessness, replacing it instead with a bounty of hope and mindfulness as it relates to the present moment.
The opening track’s final refrain gives way to the up-tempo, pounding “Love/40”, a song that examines the resistance/rebellion dichotomy, siding squarely with a notion that it is not one’s potential that matters, but rather one’s choices that constitute the foundation and framework of experience. Born out of Vollman’s short story “Me and Don Baylor” (published in both the Fredericksburg Literary & Arts Review and Foliate Oak Literary Review in 2016), “Love/40” contemplates the connection (and disconnection) between one’s ambition and desires and one’s reality and experienced outcomes. Of the song, Vollman states, “I was in Brooklyn, after load-in at a club in Park Slope, and these kids were on the street with skateboards. I watched them as they mixed whiskey and Coke right there on the sidewalk. They shared it out of a 2-liter. The craziest thing, though, was that they passed around a dog-eared copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, and read passages out loud as they drank and skated. It was crazy—I felt like I was in a movie or something. Still, the energy they exuded was amazing. I worked to try and capture that—that spirit and authenticity. I think what happened there—what I saw—was important.”
“Loved By Wolves”, which finds its roots in Vollman’s short story “Thirteen” (published by the NC-based Palaver), is a subtle nod to the Columbus, OH-based rock band, Two Cow Garage. The dreamy “Satchel Paige” (which carries threads of Tommy’s story, “Shoeless” published by Dark Matters Journal in 2015) reminisces upon the actual, as well as metaphorical weight of the great Kansas City Monarchs pitcher.
“Red-Letter Holiday” and “Come All You Ghosts" both offer a no-holds-barred examination of the nature of rebellion and its polemic, resistance. Each song is invigorated by strains of unapologetic honesty and vulnerability—a combination that conjures a sense of power that is simultaneously engaging and explosive. Both songs parallel the stories “Ketchup Sandwiches” (published by Pithead Chapel) and “We Set Fire to Conviction” (published in The Critical Pass Review).
“Nora & James”, ostensibly a love song, anchors itself in a softly-swelling melody, which gives way to a bristling chorus that both celebrates and laments the tangled, unpredictable nature of relationships. “I wrote a short story ‘Abe Lincoln’, which appeared in Per Contra a few years ago. It ruminates on relationships and hope. One night, when I was editing, a melody popped into my head. I started taking phrases out of ‘Abe Lincoln’ and populating the melody. Some of those phrases took root and evolved into lyrics. That process was, I think, pretty special. It fortified the connection between what I do with regard to my stories and what I do in these songs.”
The somber, yet reflective “Dear, Jimmy”—inspired by Vollman’s story “Jimmy”, which appeared in Two Cities Review, Literary Orphans Magazine, Empty Sink Literary Journal, and Gival Press’ ArLiJo—is rooted in Tommy’s stark and overt consideration of his friendship with journalist James Foley. The song conspires with a dream Tommy had shortly after Foley’s death. “I don’t really even know where to begin,” Vollman states. “Jimmy’s death hit hard. I recognized right away, we were all in it together. At first, that didn’t seem like that much, but I soon realized it was everything. There was a memorial service for Jim at Marquette—where we all did our undergrads. It was simultaneously the most beautiful and awful thing I’d ever witnessed. After the service, a whole bunch of us went to a bar and started telling stories, toasting Jimmy. Late in the evening, just before bar time, a friend of mine grabbed me and pulled me close. ‘Finish the story,’ he said. ‘Finish the story.’ For a while, I didn’t really know what that meant. I started writing the story before the song. There were lines and phrases that didn't fit into the structure and scope of the story, and I just didn’t know what to do with them. For a long time, I didn’t do anything. I remember thinking Who am I to write this? How do I have the right? How can this even begin to be anything close to representative of Jim? One night, I stopped asking those questions—I just got tired, I guess. Right away, the song fell out. Then I had to decide if I’d record it. That decision wasn’t easy. I’m glad, though, that I did.”
These Ghosts is book-ended by a cover—Two Cow Garage’s “Death of the Self-Preservation Society”, a synth-driven cousin of the original punk-and-guts powerhouse. The record’s melodic, yet sharply-focused arrangements echo its emotive and engaging tracks and leave listeners room to interpret and introspect, a device welcome amongst the likes of genre-crossing writers such as Raymond Carver, Bruce Springsteen, Joan DIdion, and Charles Baxter.
Tyne Darling has toured throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada, played festivals such as SXSW, Wakarusa, Midpoint Music, and CMJ, and supported the likes of Richard Buckner, Charlie Mars, Dale Watson, and The Bottlerockets. Tyne Darling’s music has been licensed for and appeared in television programs, films, and documentaries that have aired on MTV, VH1, Discovery Channel, Bravo, A&E, Oxygen, NFL and MLB Networks, and History Channel, among others.