Olivia Rodrigo
Ghost Stories

Lee DeWyze | Ghost Stories

Label: Mavelle
Release Date: August 13, 2021
Rating: -- 4.8 out of 5
Grab/Stream This At:
Apple Music
August 12, 2021
By Alan Ho
The pandemic stopped a lot of things, but also let musicians regroup, rethink. And that is what Lee DeWyze did for his newest album Ghost Stories, which really was five years in the making. 2016's Oil & Water offered a clear look at where the one time Idol winner wanted to go next and in Ghost Stories, he completely embraces the raw, emotional and organic thread of folk pop/rock alongside some of the most electric songwriting in the business today.

This wonderful combo if you need some sort of comparison or the ever present "sounds like," then Lee now has gone from standard pop/rock to a sound that combines Simon & Garkfunkel with a healthy helping of Ben Harper with a dash of John Mayer. So Bon Iver, you're not the only one who can do it. Lee DeWyze is in the house. And even though this is the first extended foray into his own influences growing up (he also counts Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam), this feels like he has been doing this the whole time!

The album kicks off the sound with the opening track "Ghost Stories." In the course of his career, the singer-songwriter has been hesistant to describe the ever so present trope of describing what the song is about; leaving the intepretation of the song to the listener themselves. "Ghost Stories" with its hauntingly beautiful and simple melody alongside the raw yet elegant arrangement is a testament to his desire to let the listener find out on their own what it means to them. DeWyze told the publication American Songwriter recently: "‘Ghost Stories’ is about telling the story in a more abstract way so people can interpret the song for themselves." He also added: “I wanted not just the emotion of the music and lyrics, but the words themselves to have an impact. It was made in a way as it felt like a continuous movement across a page, as in a story.”

This approach permeates itself from start to finish. So rather than create intepretations as we normally do ourselves as reviewers, we are going to let you, the listener, the reader create their own interpretations for the entire album. But what we can tell you here that he creatively crafts each song with a different take on the folk-pop/rock arrangement so as to stay unpredictable, much like his take on writing lyrics. But, at the end, he tells a story in each song, but again, it's up to you as the listener to decide what the story is about and what you think the story is, someone else will say, no, I think he's telling a different story. Now, THAT is something you cannot teach in songwriting 101, that's something you're born with.

What this reviewer can tell you though is that tracks like "Night and Day," "Quicksand," and "Waking Up" are must listen tos in the album (not that the entire album is a must listen to, but this reviewer needed to pick some tracks). They encapsulate the Lee DeWyze experience right now and this reviewer thinks his vocal delivery lends a massive hand to the simple, yet intricate songwriting here. Singer-songwriters that are starting out need to take notice if they intend to go this route. "Weeds" is probably the most lush of the album, almost a Jason Mraz type quality to it with the horns blaring.

Ghost Stories at the end is a masterpiece that perhaps no one will talk about and they should. The mainstream might be more preoccupied with the next big thing or whether or not they smash singles records, touring records. Lee DeWyze clearly hasn't done any of those things. But if you're someone like him, who is on album no. 7, along with a litany of songwriting credits on big TV shows and movies and a steady fanbase, then that is perfectly OK. This album from start to finish should be part of a master class on how to write music, taught by Justin Vernon, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and LEE DEWYZE.
Alan Ho is the co-founder, CEO and Chief Publisher/Webmaster of  In between his IT guy duties in his day job, watching CW superhero shows, rooting for the Cubs and his alma mater Purdue, he manages to find time to review albums, make an infrequent sit-down in the Hot Seat and go cover a show or two. Tweet him at @atrain2324, he tweets, therefore he tweets.
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