Three years after their first collaboration, Dave Gahan & Soulsavers are back together on Angels & Ghosts. Much like their last collection (2012's The Light the Dead See), they craft a comforting set of blues- and gospel-tinged slow-burners for wandering dusty roads and lonely deserts at dusk. Unlike their debut, which was released solely under the Soulsavers name, Angels & Ghosts splits the credit with Dave Gahan, whose name tops the billing. The connection of the Soulsavers' downtempo soundscapes and the kick of Gahan's magnetic charm produce beautiful results. Whereas The Light the Dead See was a simple addition of Gahan's lyrics to the Soulsavers' music, this is a fully cohesive collaboration, with both artists sharing songwriting credits on all songs.
For Depeche Mode fans, this album fits nicely alongside Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, creating that same cowboy throwback vibe without the clutter of industrial beats and synths (likewise, one could imagine the gloom and ache of Ultra without Martin Gore's atmospherics). Side by side with their first attempt at teamwork, this sophomore effort is more fully realized and actually sounds like a singular vision rather than a cut-and-paste collaboration.
On opener "Shine," Gahan stakes his position as charismatic minister of the church of reformed sinners. Backed by a gospel choir, the uplifting track stomps and soars. The Soulsavers production is warm and hazy throughout, but especially on the woozy "Tempted" and lead single "All of This and Nothing." Album highlight "The Last Time" comes toward the end, a cinematic sweep of gorgeous strings and choir. Elsewhere on the album, Gahan's command as one of the best frontmen in rock creeps into play: on the sweaty swagger of "You Owe Me," the bayou rocking "Don't Cry," and spaghetti Western closer "My Sun." For fans patiently waiting for the follow-up to 2013's Delta Machine, Angels & Ghosts should satisfy their desire.