Our Take: Ghostpoet’s Doom-Laden Dreariness Captures the 2020 Mood on ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’

Our Rating

Ghostpoet’s ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ will knock you to the floor, and you’ll always want to get back up for another round.

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Ghostpoet captures an inky vista of life in the era of austerity and populism as I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep comes to us amidst all the chaos and uncertainty in the UK. This is a deeply personal record. Ghostpoet’s voice is at the heart of it all, mumbling through each piece as a calm narrator to the unfolding panorama. It’s his way of processing the glacial calamity happening around him – a withering voice in the darkness, losing sanity with each passing day.

Listen: ‘I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep’ – Ghostpoet




I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep – Ghostpoet

Ghostpoet has already enjoyed some big achievements over his short career. Less than a decade after his debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, the London native (now recently moved to Germany) has released a clutch of ever-progressing albums in his own idiosyncratic style. He is one of the darlings of the Mercury prize – I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is his third nomination – and his genre-defying output has gained him fans from many different corners of the music world. The dust has not yet settled on I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep, but it’s already looking like the finest of a bumper crop.

It’s all on top,
It’s too much noise,
I can’t turn it off,
Panic attacks,
I need a break
It’s getting kinda complex these days…

Dark Days And Canapes was a tight paranoid ball of stress – it was frustration at the static futility of life on the knife-edge of existence in London. It’s compositionally sparse with a scratchier production quality. It felt smaller in scale – perhaps just a group of guys in a practice room together. I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is expanded – an evolution in sound. However, Ghostpoet hasn’t strayed too far from the formula. Many of the musical themes from Dark Days And Canapes have been carried over. I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep has everything turned up several notches. It’s the widescreen version of events as seen through the same tired eyes.

Once again the happy pills ain’t doin’ shit.
So what becomes of me?
Watch: “I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep” – Ghostpoet




“Humana Second Hand” is one of the finest pieces ever put to record by Ghostpoet. The hair-raising despondency as he describes the loneliness of depression would be beautiful if it wasn’t so sad. It’s about wanting to fix yourself but failing, watching the world pass you over, beating yourself up as you watch people move on and do better things. What little inertia the verses build is entirely dissipated by the chorus drop. The backing strings and extra instruments breathe like bellows, heavy as lungs after another long, hard sigh.

Britain’s on a mission,
Humans in a daze,
Far right on the jukebox,
High vision, bright as day

Some of the words on I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep are strikingly direct. “Rats In A Sack” is clearly about Brexit, the repeated “Let’s get out, out means out!” in the chorus leaves no doubt as to the song’s subject. Ghostpoet also mentions the Windrush scandal, and wonders aloud how many more people, including himself, might be affected. There’s no doubt that it’s a difficult time for many people in Britain. As a songwriter, Ghostpoet is usually cryptic, but it seems that even he cannot stay silent in this turgid political climate.

The addition of strings on I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep grab you on the first listen. Ghostpoet’s earlier work wasn’t lacking without them, but some of the orchestral moments on this album are majestic. On “This Train Wreck Of A Life” and “Rats In A Sack,” the strings take centre stage, carrying the melody along in a way that was impossible on previous records. The strings across the entire album have a measured gravitas; the mix is not flooded with too much, meaning that when they do appear, they bring an impact.

We hold the keys, we turnin’ these locks together,
You walk the dark streets alone, I stick to shadows forever,
She said, ‘Shoot for the moon, honey,’ ah.
But there’s no light inside

Ghostpoet © Meara Kallista Morse



Having spoken of all the extra instrumentation, you’ll find Ghostpoet most at home when he’s got an axe in his hand. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, but guitar is his go-to. Just listen to the incredible outro sound wall on the title track, the final solo on “Social Lacerations,” and his playing on “Nowhere To Hide.” Ghostpoet’s textural guitar is his bread and butter; it’s his comfort zone which brings out some of the better moments in his music.

In the end, I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep offers no respite from the perturbed worldview offered by Ghostpoet. It’s a raw message about the state of affairs. It’s not saying there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s saying maybe there never will be. I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is a dry acknowledgment – it’s somewhere between a shrug of the shoulders and a full-on panic attack. Ghostpoet isn’t offering answers, he’s just calling it as he sees it. Along with the stark, graceful musicianship, this album will knock you to the floor. The crazy thing is, you’ll always want to get back up for another round.

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I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep

an album by Ghostpoet



 

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