As lead-singer of Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan was responsible for some of the greatest albums of the eighties and nineties, taking the dubious accolade of being the biggest band in UK chart history never to have a number one hit. They shifted through genres from their synth-pop sound of the early eighties to the grungier sound of ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ and the darker electronic ‘Ultra’. They constantly reinvented their selves to stay relevant; probably the reason they weathered so many decades. But Gahan is also an accomplished solo artist too, and this new album ‘Angels & Ghosts’ is his second collaboration with UK based duo Soulsavers, following on from 2012’s ‘The Light The Dead Sea.’
As an artist he is a serious guy, and this is a serious album. It couldn’t be much more removed from those early Depeche Mode pop records such as ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. There is something incredibly raw and authentic tic about his voice, that makes you believe that all the pain is real. But that’s hardly surprising. He has won a battle with cancer, and recovered from a drug overdose that left him clinically dead for two minutes. This is one of life’s survivors, and his vocals are weathered to perfection. There is a definite gospel tinge on this album, probably inspired by his collaborators. It starts right from track one on album opener ‘Shine’. Fans of Depeche Mode’s brilliant ’93 album ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ will be more than comfortable with this sound, as it echos tracks such as ‘Condemnation’. That big dramatic sound continues on throughout the album to a degree. Never more so than on leading single ‘All Of This And Nothing’ which takes full advantage of the huge gospel vocals, and bond-theme-esque strings. It’s a great opening bid for the team, and let’s us know what the tone of the album will be. Easily a contender for song of the year.
But where Gahan really excels is on those big emotional tracks. Slower songs like ‘Lately’ and ‘One Thing’ are both beautiful piano-lead ballads that wrench away at the heartstrings, both lyrically and musically. Whilst ‘Don’t Cry’ sounds like a desperate plea, with all the longing and desperation of a man on the edge. It’s a sound that not many can pull off. Gahan has become less synth-pop and more a serious competitor for the likes of Nick Cave. Maybe it’s their similar back story that puts them on a parr, but there is definitely a similarity.
What makes this album a real success is the synergy between the two acts. There is something between them that really enhances each other’s sounds. It has all the best parts of Depeche Mode’s most recent outings, but with a more enduring sound. It is dramatic, intense, with all the elegance you’d expect from such an artist.
Dave’s Official Site
Soulsaver’s Official Site