BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
If The Ghost of Escondido isn’t one of the most auspicious albums of the year thus far, then it certainly comes close. The first foray by its namesake duo, it sets a bar that may prove hard to beat. Jessica Marcos’ soaring, seductive vocals, framed by the sturdy background of Tyler James’ sumptuous and sweeping arrangements, enhance the couple’s darker designs — particularly evident on such songs as “Rodeo Queen,” Bad Without You” and “Special Enough.” Fortunately though, this Ghost… isn’t of the menacing variety, but rather, one that pleads, whispers, cajoles and tugs at the heartstrings. The music gets under the skin on first encounter — no wimpy folkies this pair — and on a song such as “Don’t Love Me Too Much” they set up a scenario full of obvious longing, even as they manage to keep all entreaties at arm’s length. Imagine X, Heart and Nick Cave sitting in an empty room, passing around a bottle of cheap wine and exchanging tales of despair and desire. Once can only hope that Escondido has the gumption to maintain these levels of agitation and emotion, and that future outings at least come close to conveying the conviction expressed here.
DOWNLOAD “Don’t Love Me Too Much,” “Bad Without You,” “Special Enough”