Review: Musikanto "Ghost Pain"

Musikanto's debut album 'Ghost Pain" is an alt-country and Americana music lover's dream with lush melodies, thought provoking lyrics and breezy, uplifting vocals.

Musikanto set out on a solo career after growing up on and Chicago's northside and most recently performed with the Windy City's Sleeper Car. But with "Ghost Pain" it is clearly obvious that Musikanto was born to be a solo act. Musikanto's father enjoyed hard-to-find roots rock and folk music, and this influence shows. But Musikanto's musical style is an interesting amalgamation of the music his father loved combined with elements of soulful British rock, 90s pop/rock and Ryan Adams-style alt-country. This is a powerful and winning combination.

The album begins with the melodic "Misty Morning." For someone who has never heard Musikanto, the first song will be a revelation. The artist's name "Musikanto" might indicate the music is soul or R&B. Likewise, the cover suggests the music might be experimental rock - not the best album the Drive-By Truckers never made. That's why a publicity photo of a laid-back Musikanto with his shirt open strumming a cosmetically imperfect guitar is probably a better representation of the man and his music.

The second song on "Ghost Pain" is "I Ain't Your Rock" which deserves to be major radio hit. This track illustrates the best elements of Musikanto. You see, Musikanto's music will be eaten up like hot dogs at a Cubs game by the masses, but they lyrics and musicianship can be also be enjoyed, appreciated and disseminated by individuals who are more intense music aficionados.

The final song "I Know Something's Going On" is a beautiful ballad. Musikanto wrote every song on "Ghost Pain," and it's clear that this musician knows how to construct a ballad that touches the heartstrings of both men and women - a rare talent. "Atomic Walls" also showcases Musikanto's songwriting skill. But the best track on the album is the haunting "To See You One More Time." The vocal performance is understated and flawless. Plus, the music is stripped bare in a way that highlights the lyrics to maximum effect.

One of the best songs on "Ghost Pain" is the upbeat "Howl." Musikanto can rock a concert hall, and this track proves it. "Take It On Will," "Flowers And Stinging Bees," and "I Don't Even Know About It" all have anthem-like qualities and should also be fan favorites. "I'll Hold You Back" is one of Musikanto's most uniquely wonderful songs, and it succeeds mightily.

Musikanto's "Ghost Pain" is a towering achievement that is not easily compartmentalized into one or two genres. In these days of overly packaged pop princesses using harmonizers and studio wizardry, it is downright refreshing to bear witness to the debut album of an artist who strips his soul bare and presents it on a platter in such a melodic and compelling way.