Rolf Klausener, leader of the Canadian indie rock band the Acorn, looked deep into his mother's life on the group's 2007 album, Glory Hope Mountain, and then, after performing it on tour, reexamined much of the same material for their next effort, 2009's Heron Act, so no one can blame Klausener and his bandmates for wanting to try something a few shades lighter. 2010's No Ghost was written and recorded during several weeks' sojourn at a lakeside cottage in Quebec, and while it doesn't play like something to throw on the stereo during a vacation, there's a freshness and spontaneity to the recordings that's honest and organic, and suggest the band is happy to be moving on to fresher themes. No Ghost doesn't sound or feel lightweight; while there isn't a unifying theme to these 11 songs, the failings of the human heart and soul wind their way through them, always with compassion but sometimes without letting his subjects off the hook. At the same time, the performances flow with a simple but palpable joy; the Acorn fill the arrangements with a variety of instrumental textures but leave enough open space to prevent the material from sounding cluttered, and the interaction of the five musicians (and a handful of guests) feels fresh and confident at once, as the players explore their spaces and like what they find. (Nearly all the bandmembers take on several instruments, and the interaction and emotional enthusiasm of the Acorn stretching their boundaries clearly informs the recordings.) If No Ghost doesn't look as deep into a human soul as Glory Hope Mountain, it does allow the Acorn to cast a significant glance into their own hearts, minds, and creative processes, and the finished product is an album of genuine beauty and intelligence that merits careful listening.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming