Album review: Songs For My People by Shane Ghostkeeper

The Albertan artist proudly demonstrates his love for the country music genre, Indigenous heritage, and family

Indigenous Albertan artist Shane Ghostkeeper released his new country album Songs For My People on July 28. (Submitted/Heather Saitz)

Indigenous Albertan artist Shane Ghostkeeper released his new country album Songs For My People on July 28. (Submitted/Heather Saitz)

I don’t listen to much country music, but Indigenous Albertan artist Shane Ghostkeeper and his newest country album Songs For My People has definitely won me over. The 10 tracks on his latest work released July 28 will bring you a reassuring country adventure. 

What will stand out to fans of Ghostkeeper is his choice to make family the central theme to his  album. Historically, him and his Indigenous indie rock band, also called Ghostkeeper, engaged with politics and the environment through their music. With Songs For My People, the Indigenous singer pivots from this approach to focus more on his loved ones.

Ghostkeeper shows his vocal creativity and love for country music from the gasps, sighs, and quick chuckles that add so much of his personality into his songs. He’ll recite lyrics, as if talking to a friend, only to return to singing them with an enjoyable country drawl. 

Most of the album features slow and soft country songs that are perfect for relaxing during tropical beach vacations. Tracks like “Ghost” use laidback guitar and drums that create the image of peaceful ocean waves approaching and receding from the shoreline. Ghostkeeper lets these harmonies take the lead until he rejoins the melody with his comforting vocals.    

It’s important to note the Albertan artist said he pairs the tragic stories of late relatives with uplifting arrangements in his songs. Lyrically, the country rock tune “Hunger Strike” is dedicated to his late grandparents, but has energetic vocals and swinging tempos speeding up from the guitar and drum set. The album certainly proves the singer’s refusal to let personal loss get him down. That’s not only admirable, it’s incredibly inspiring for his audience.

Ghostkeeper also honours his Indigenous roots since he developed his passion for country music from his childhood in Northern Alberta’s Métis communities. The track “One More Name” is a song he wrote to celebrate his wife and bandmate Sarah Houle, but it also unpacks his Métis experiences. Reverberating guitar riffs and a simple drum beat following closely behind signify a constant reminder of how integral these aspects of his life are to who he is.

As much as I do enjoy Ghostkeeper’s country songs, his band’s Multidimensional Culture album from last year feels more inventive with its musical choices. Plus, the indie rock vibes are more familiar with my tastes in genre music. However, I would still gladly listen to Songs For My People for its calm and collected tones. 

My favourite instrumental production from the album are these heavy and gritty guitar riffs that appear before the choruses in “Why Do I Hide.” The segments sound like a country grunge that subverts what to expect on the track. I would’ve liked it if Ghostkeeper pushed his guitar playing even further in similar ways with his other songs. His country music and lyricism are still impressive.

Overall, Shane Ghostkeeper is an artist to watch out for if you’re ever in need of new country music for your daily listens. If you’re not a Canadian country fan yet, you soon will be with Ghostkeeper’s album.

Final Score: 9/10

Favourite Tracks: “Hunger Strike,” “One More Name,” “Uncle John,” “Ghost.”