Aaron Dessner takes the lead in this melancholy tune.
The National’s Aaron Dessner has had many musical roles over the years: songwriter, guitarist, producer, to name a few. But “The Ghost of Cincinnati” marks his first foray into taking on lead vocals as well via his Big Red Machine project with Justin Vernon. The track is an acoustic affair, just Dessner and his voice. With references to 12th and Vine, Covington Bridge, Ault Park, Pete Rose and more, he paints a wonderful visual of the titular city and its culture.
But as he strums out bright chords, he sings with a mix reflection and wistfulness, “I’m Over-the-Rhine/ For the millionth timе,” like he’s returning to an old neighborhood that’s still familiar but changed. It makes for a serene and spectral song.
“I imagine this could be a little bit about myself, or friends I’ve lost or someone who has overextended and overspent themselves to a point where they’ve lost everything, empty and hollow like a ghost,” Dessner said about the song.
Big Red Machine’s second album, How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, will be released on 8/27 via Jagjaguwar/37d03d.