People make music derived from all sorts of motivations, whether it’s performed in front of the mirror or a thousand people. For Nathan Nicholson the calling was partly exercised on the run, an emigration from his native Tennessee to London that followed the death of his mother and a clutch of other circumstances.
The Boxer Rebellion – the band he formed once the transition was complete – have had a curious existence ever since their 2004 debut Exits, living at times from hand to mouth but remaining true to principles scorned by pretty much anyone whose ever read “How To Get Along In Rock Music #101”. Ghost Alive is their fifth album, one during the recording of which Nicholson’s father passed away, an event which inspires rather than dominates its emotional, unredoutable honesty. Intended as an unplugged, back to basics effort, there is a richness of tone that helps it escape the clichés of this mostly played out formula, a fragility which modern-day musicians – modern day everybody – likes to keep hidden behind the insincerity of glossy photographs of nothingness.
More importantly Ghost Alive is a hugely positive, affirmatory work; personal without being sentimental, raw without being awkwardly visceral. Its design is a welcome, every song accessibly tailored for anyone who seeks music as an experience beyond words and instruments being banged together. Like all good records its evolved beyond the originally perceived scope and on it The Boxer Rebellion are spirits looking back down at a world we could all do with some separation from sometimes.
You can read the full review of Ghost Alive here (A new window will open up).