time to change the way we view music and the arts

“all my friends” are listening to ghosthands’ new single

Man in black clothing, laying on his back in the snow

Image courtesy of artist


Ghosthands is a singer-songwriter from Mississauga, Ontario. Their newest single, “all my friends,” is a short and sweet display of just how effortlessly a song built on an emo-styled, despondent mentality and-or narrative, can seamlessly take on new artistic layers to re-frame how the initial message is received and felt by the listener. Sitting at just shy of three and a half minutes long, “all my friends” fits squarely into a radio-friendly run time but, it’s not until the music kicks in and ghosthands’ performative choices come to light, that the functionality of the song’s length adds to its overall character. In the opening minute alone, the music transforms from a solo vocal melody accompanied by a single clean electric guitar, to a harmonized vocal duet, to blending in the addition of a mid-tempo rhythmic beat on electronic drums, to then making notable changes to vocal delivery, sonic staging, and dynamics. Once that first minute mark hits, “all my friends” has morphed from a bare bones emo statement to a brightly mixed, sharply enunciated, uptempo alternative pop song.


Image courtesy of artist


Melodically speaking, the music doesn’t pull much in the way of dramatic surprises. The verses primarily ascend an interval of a fourth and then back down, with most deviation occurring beneath the starting note, rather than above it. While this reflects a slightly more subtle dimension to the song, the limited range of the melody doesn’t necessarily weaken the complete listening experience. Rather, having a melody that doesn’t jump around too wildly leaves more room for focus on the nuances of the song’s shifts in sonic perspective, which is where much of cool factor hides.

Shanaya Patel, the individual singing alongside ghosthands, comes to take the leading position from ghosthands now and again but, the switch is never blunt – save for when the third verse kicks in and the whole mix opens up with a crisp brightness and less filtering over both singers’ voices. The rest of the time, it’s a delicate, almost unnoticed transition that happens between them – at least until after the flip has occurred and listener intrigue sets in to say, “Wait, this is different.” This is despite the fact that by the latter half of the song’s three minutes, ghosthands has sung some phrases multiple times due to song’s familiar pop song structure of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Knowing a phrase is being repeated for the third or so time in a song but still finding a mental sense of refreshment with each subsequent recitation, helps to offset the minimal movement of the melody and the somewhat thematic nature of the lyrics, which leaves each verse (understandably) starting with the titular phrase, “All my friends are…”


All my friends are out there getting drunk
Hopping bars, and turning numb
And I don’t drink, guess I’m no fun
But maybe once I’ll tag along
All my friends are in relationships
While I’m out here sinking bit by bit
Staying home on Valentine’s
To me it’s just a Monday night

– Lyrics from “all my friends”


As the song approaches its end, it’s appreciable that ghosthands opts to almost wink to the sonic roots of emo music. The music in the bridge is covered in a dense blanket of filtering, compression, and reverb, leaving it sounding as though the recording is happening inside of a large, booming, metallic warehouse space, with the vocals being captured from quite far away. The significant shift sonic character from all the bright and clear tonality prior makes the bridge feel incredibly lo-fi, even if how ghosthands achieved this shift in sound style was by modern and not ad-hoc means. To then go from this to the final chorus, which bursts forth with full clarity; livelier, more prominent drums; and bits of finishing background vocals, hammers home in an almost A/B fashion, ghosthands’ great execution of contrast on this song. From start to finish, it’s almost like ghosthands is giving listeners an express lane experience of where emo starts and how it can very easily, and with much ending appeal, grow into a very singable, danceable, remixable, and memorable piece of music.

“all my friends” is available now.
Find it on Bandcamp and stream on Apple Music.

Keep up with ghosthands through these social media platforms:


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