Without understanding the concept, context and exotic instrumentation driving the spirit of some mighty Lusitanian Ghosts, the album might simply be enjoyed as an engaging collection of rollicking anthem-like rockers, lively pop-rock romps, and thought-provoking acoustic singer-songwriter gems. Yet the reason it exists for our intrigue and listening pleasure is fascinating.
The brainchild and long in the making passion project of Portuguese-Canadian indie rocker Neil Leyton (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass), Lusitanian Ghosts is an artist collective featuring an array of Portuguese chordophone guitars (Beiroa, Terceirense, viola Amarantina, viola Braguesa, Nyckelharpa, viola Campanica).
The back story is that these instruments, whose combinations and varied tunings reflect the music of several regions of Portugal, is that they are now on the verge of extinction. Thus, they are the Ghosts of Lusitania, the ancient Iberian Roman province that included most of modern-day Portugal. I’m excited to report that the release of the album coincides with a documentary film featuring interviews with several cordophone experts, who explain how these ancient instruments have been forgotten over time.
When you hear Lusitanian Ghosts, you’ll want to thank Neil for gathering a crew of great musicians who make history part of our contemporary musical conversation.