Album Review: Renata Zeiguer – Old Ghost

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If there is one thing Renata Zeiguer proves on her debut album Old Ghost, it is that within the small fragments of an album, you are able to present the rawest aspects of the human soul through surreal images and thought-provoking lyricism. The Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, who shared her project in late February, reflects on the nature of human existence. Throughout the project, she is able to amalgamate the harsh realities of human existence with the acceptance that beauty can be found amongst the disarray.

The most prominent aspect of Zeiguer’s Old Ghost is her use of surreal images and metaphors. In the Kafkaesque 'Bug', she includes aspects of The Metamorphosis and Kafka’s six-legged creature. Though the track sees Zeiguer discuss feelings of sinking and areas closing in, she also reflects on finding a way to exist amongst the chaos. The lyrics “winter rose, decompose, spring is waiting,” hints at the change of seasons. The song may be interpreted in an array of different ways, but what I gathered from it is that this is her perspective on isolation and finding a way to exist through it. This could involve finding your place in the world when you’ve changed in some way, yet the world around you remains unchanged — resulting in feelings of isolation and indifference. Despite the fact that the song involves the reflection of solitariness. Zeiguer does this through whimsical arrangements that sound as if they’ve been dipped into a pull of sunshine. The appearance of this accepts that beauty can be found amongst the paranoia of loneliness. Though it is not overly obvious, the use of animals also appears in 'Follow Me Down' later on in the album, “steadily slithering, slowly but patiently swallowing me whole” — showing the importance Zeiguer puts on the use of surreal images in her storytelling.

Zeiguer’s words are wrapped around whimsical images — and deep down, they discuss relatable fears of millennial women. On 'After All', she describes the fear involved in seeking digital validation from our online networks. The track opens up with “Picture that and tag me in I want them all to know.” On ‘After All’, it appears as if she is talking about a new relationship and how she is spending time being paranoid and too caught up in the image she is presenting to other people online. Contrast is an influential part of the album — themes like paranoia and fear (which is usually showcased in music with negative connotations) feels part of a mischievous theatrical performance. 'After All' may have some frenzied moments, but much of the track feels like being stuck in a dream sequence.

'Below', a song that reads like being in the middle of an anxious episode, has a surf-like quality. Apart from the slight mild panic reflected in the guitars, nothing about it feels like being caught in the middle of a panic attack. If you read the lyrics carefully, the words recount a different feeling, “eyes open wide, I can't see, just give me your hand / I can't breathe, doubling / the hydrogen, sky above, or floor below / no don't go backward / or fast forward”. Reading these words in isolation portrays a state of uneasiness. Listening to them against the backdrop of Zeiguer’s playful vocals and airy energy, these fervent words find a new sense of meaning.

Zeiguer expresses the themes of the album with her haunting track 'Gravity (Old Ghost)'. It opens up with the words, “a cloud is hovering, standing permanently still / 
old ghost that I can't kill.” There’s a sense of acceptance on 'Gravity (Old Ghost)' — as if Zeiguer has conceded that it is impossible to completely abolish the darkness from the world and its best to find effulgence amongst our fears and constant paranoia.

Old Ghost might not produce memorable singles that listeners will revisit — some may deem this as a flaw, while others will argue that the overall cohesiveness is more influential than a couple of distinctive singles — but, what it does do is present commentary, of not only Zeiguer’s fears but the fears of many, through the delicate art of tantalising storytelling. The meaning behind her engrossing words may be interpreted from an array of viewpoints depending on your experiences, or thoughts of human existence.  Listening to Old Ghost feels like being immobile in a surrealist dream, where your anxieties don’t always marry up to the ways of the world.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

You can purchase Old Ghost here or stream it via Apple Music

You can find Renata Zeiguer online here: