Mike Killeen’s latest album, “Ghost,” is available on Saturn 5 Records, beginning in May 2019.
“She Called Me Last Night,” the first track from Mike Killeen’s new album, “Ghost,” closes with the twice-repeated line: “If you believe in this thing, and all that it means, it will follow you wherever you will go.”
For Killeen, that “thing” has always been music.
“I remember the most meaningful song from every year of my life,” he says. “Hearing live music for the first time. The first song I wrote. What was playing each time I realized I was falling in love. It’s always been there, no matter what I’ve done or where I’ve been. Every time I try to fit music into something else, I realize I have it exactly backwards.”
When Killeen, producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo), and executive producer Richard Lenz began discussing “Ghost,” Killeen’s fifth full-length release, the mantra was to “not make just another singer-songwriter record.” That concept manifested itself into a nine-song collection that relies on a diversity of styles in songwriting, accompaniment, and production to create a pop/rock sound blending traits familiar to indie rock, alternative rock, Americana, and folk rock enthusiasts.
Recorded at Coomer’s Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville, and released in spring 2019 on Saturn 5 Records, “Ghost” is Killeen’s strongest set of songs and lyrics to-date.
Coomer, who’s drummed for songwriting immortals including Jeff Tweedy, Jay Farrar, Steve Earle, Al Green, and Roger McGuinn, said: “Mike Killeen can take you to that place, the place of a lost love, that yearning we all have for someone, or he can paint the picture of human loss, that deep line that runs between life and death.”
Killeen sings lead on all nine “Ghost” tracks—and contributes electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, and piano. Expert accompaniment from Joe Garcia on lead guitar, Ted Pecchio on bass, and Coomer on drums—as well the textural presence of keyboards, mellotrons, mandocellos, loops, and well-placed harmonies by Kristen Englenz and Nathan Beaver—give the album its hard-to-label, but easy-to-embrace vibe. In addition to “She Called Me Last Night,” “Siren Call,” “You Ain’t Settling Anymore,” and “Decatur Cemetery (Section 14)” are highlights.
When asked why he decided to make this record now, Killeen recalled listening last year to one of his favorite Bob Dylan songs, “Going, Going, Gone,” with the lyric:
Grandma said, “Boy, go and follow your heart
And you’ll be fine at the end of the line
All that’s gold isn’t meant to shine
Don’t you and your one true love ever part”
“Sometimes,” laughed Killeen. “You have to heed the voice of God.”