When JE Sheehy isn’t shredding strings for Fredericton based hard-rock band, Deep Fryer, he apparently spends his time as a reclusive solo artist, specializing in ambient instrumentals. A triple threat of creativity, to his credit, Sheehy is not only a musician but also a bilingual journalist and radio host. Over the course of the last year, Sheehy has been releasing a series of singles and EP’s under the aptly titled moniker of Starving Ghosts. In December these tracks will be collected for the first time outside of SoundCloud, to form a proper album, released via local New Brunswick label, Bored Coast Records.
Imbued with an aura of quiet, private contemplation, no matter how many tonal changes take place, a sense of retrospect is omnipresent. Without lyrics, Sheehy tells tales of transcendent experiences and familiar emotions; loneliness/isolation, self reflection, nostalgia, regret, and as his chosen project name suggests, hunger, for something beyond this world.
This… is sound transforming into aeronautics.
The opening track, ‘Past Apartment’ leaves one with a longing for days gone by. In highly relatable fashion, from time to time we have all reminisced of our youthful years, that era of extreme change and self discovery when we moved out of Ma and Pa’s to live on our own.
Imagine revisiting that original space that was truly “yours.” To see it again in something more than photos. So many memories, so many “firsts.” The catch is; maybe you’re not physically there? And most certainly the exploration is done in solitude. Sheehy narrates the scene as you search for something that’s not there and perhaps never was; wholeheartedly, you embrace what it means to be… a starving ghost.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom; Sheehy resists the urge to fully lose himself in his music and dangerously take it all too seriously. Song titles such as ‘This Attic Smells Terrible, You Ought to Open a Window Instead of Playing Trumpet and Throwing a Party’ implies to the listener that our individual memories sugarcoat the past and impede us from broadening our outlook.
Then there is ‘Annual ‘Can’t Sleep, Clown’s Gonna Eat Me’ Month’ which is a widely popular, (and oft-times still quoted) reference from a classic episode of The Simpsons. The song itself is very low key and reminds me of something that would be played during an anti-climatic, depressing final scene of a film. The humorous name however, piques my curiosity about the true intention.
The effort is a highly diverse exercise in multi-instrumentation. In the beginning, the guitar is the primary, driving force, only to be slowly edged out by piano/keyboards, a sparse use of percussion, and eventually synthesizers. Sheehy takes his time, beginning with noises that are spaced out and paced like a ritualistic dirge. By the closing, what was initially a series of melancholy melodies turns into something loud, triumphant, and ultimately… pretty.