“Merry the Ghost” starts just right. Only for a moment, Gypsy Tailwind’s gifted vocalist, Amanda Gervasi, is suspended in midair, sugarcoated in reverb, sans accompaniment.

“There’s no rest till daybreak” is how the record opens, an ironic lyric for such a honeyed lullaby.

The truth of the lyric, though, is borne out over these 10 spirit-soaked tracks that Gervasi and her talented team have stayed up until dawn to make real.

The track that cuts to the bone in this too-short collection is “Drunken Masquerade.” With shifty time signatures, a subtle compressed beat for structure, and a gorgeous evocative chorus, the tune reminds one of being separated from your love on an Old Port late night.

“Through the drunken masquerade/ We watch the painted crowds/ And found each other standing/ With sober hands and mouths,” sings Gervasi, with the help of a backup chorale and lush production. It’s a risk that works.

Another humdinger is the mercilessly intimate closer “Still Wrong,” where plump piano notes and strings help fill the void of a lover who has fled. “As I sleep in this corpse of a year/ We buried alive,” she sings patiently, to devastating effect.

The dobros, banjos and simple strings on “Merry the Ghost” all make for a startling debut from an emerging artist.

Gervasi may in time decide to curb her vibrato and go for her true “less is more” record, but power to her for grabbing the opportunity to first make a bombastic splash.

 

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.