The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger | Acoustic Sessions
Most Likely To: be haunted by the ghost of an acid-tongued Beatle.
I believe it was McCartney who pointed out in an interview that, say what one will about the four moptops themselves, no one can deny that they had some pretty good kids. That is definitely a true statement – given the staggering fame of their dads, the fact that it’s difficult to come up with a single scandal or bit of tawdry gossip involving a Beatle kid speaks well of the species as a whole. The closest any of them come to being controversial is Julian Lennon occasionally talking shit about his step-mom, but hell, everybody talks shit about Yoko, so that’s not even really news.
For the most part, Beatle kids have attempted to be their own people and not tried to coast overmuch on their fathers’ reputations – so far, there have been no Natalie Cole or Hank Williams Jr. style duets with dead daddies, for instance. Still, though, no one will ever let them forget their parentage, which surely must suck for them, at least a little bit. For instance, here we are in the second paragraph of a review of Julian Lennon’s half-brother Sean’s new project and the asshole reviewer is just now getting around to mentioning him by name, which is bullshit no matter how you slice it.
Sean Lennon will always be judged according to the standard set by his parents, which, given that he’s the son of the most revered father in rock history and the most (unfairly) reviled mother, is an impossibly high bar to try to clear. So far in his career, Lennon has attempted to dodge the issue by showing little interest in replicating either his father’s self-lacerating honesty or his mother’s take-no-prisoners artistic fearlessness. Sean seems to be a modest and likeable enough cuss, doing his best to be his own man in the shadow of a titan of a father.
But if the downside to being a Beatle kid is having an impossible act to follow, the upside is that people will always pay attention when you put out an album, and as long as it’s not a total disaster they’ll be generally well disposed toward it. Such is the case with Acoustic Sessions, Sean Lennon’s first album with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl under the name The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. It’s a pleasant collection of low-key folk pop that is good, but not so good that it would have garnered a whole lot of attention were it not for the Lennon name attached to it.
Lennon and Muhl have crafted a subdued collection of mellow folk-pop on which the two harmonize quite nicely atop tasteful acoustic arrangements. The opener “Lavender Road” is a bit of a red herring, sporting by far the most John Lennon-ish melody to snag the curious into giving the rest of the album a chance. What the listener will hear for the rest of it is enjoyable but not earthshaking boy-girl duets with some clever lyrics and okay melodies – sort of a Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra for the twee era. The listener will like it okay but will not scream themselves hoarse in Shea Stadium over it.
Sean Lennon has once again made an album that makes it clear that he’s not his father and really has no intention of trying to be. Acoustic Sessions is an okay album by a couple of seemingly good folks, but nothing desperately special. Maybe that will be good enough for people coming to it with expectations based on parentage, maybe it won’t be. For as long as he maintains a recording career, Lennon will have to deal with those expectations. The fact that he doesn’t really seem to take them into consideration speaks volumes for him, even if Acoustic Sessions itself doesn’t.
Watch Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger perform “Lavender Road” live on WNYC‘s Spinning on Air: