Individually, Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore can essentially do no wrong. Together, they are a force that certainly cannot produce anything other than pure magic.
Ghost Forests finds the pair complimenting each other’s strengths beautifully. Baird’s subtle yet evocative guitar work and spectral, boundless vocals are supported by—and blend perfectly with— Lattimore’s equally commanding and evocative harp work.
The majority of the album is elegant and deeply pleasant, filled to the brim with gorgeously dreamy passages of gently intertwining wisps of acoustic and electric guitar and harp. However, at other points, like during the opening track and “Painter of Tygers,” a more shadowy tone creeps out, thanks to the use of dissonant keyboards and creaky electric guitar, which creates a brooding foundation of dark drones. This particular feature hangs an ever present cloud of darkness in the background of the otherwise peaceful album.
Then again, this bedrock of slightly sinister buzzes and hums allows for Baird and Lattimore’s instruments of choice to weave carefully plucked notes around each other, like wild, twisting ivy. A great example of this is “In Cedars,” which gives the listener a feeling of natural looseness, like as if the potentially improvised sounds are more of a work or nature instead of that of humans.
A major highlight here is the closing piece, a gorgeous eight-minute adaptation of “Fair Annie,” one of the Child Ballads, which shows that Baird still thankfully loves classic British folk songs (check out her cover of “Willie o’ Winsbury” from 2007’s Dear Companion). The arrangement here is nothing short of striking. Baird’s voice rings out like a church bell on a chilly evening, while the accompanying combination of piano, harp and acoustic guitar supports and sympathizes with her vocals in the most rapturous way possible.
Elegant, dreamy and beyond atmospheric, this is a record that will never cease causing awe, wonder and chills.