Mike Killeen Busts Out His Ghost

If this whole singer-songwriter thing doesn’t work out for Mike Killeen, he should totally upend his whole image, grow a diabolical-looking beard, smother his entire body with tattoos, go full metal jackass, become a screamer-shredder and start a band called Killeen Machine. Then he could get original Dio drummer Vinny Appice to produce an album for them.

Yeah, that would be funny. Unlikely to happen, though. Mike’s quite content going the meaningful troubadour route. He even enlisted original Wilco drummer Ken Coomer to produce his new, fifth studio album, Ghost, after Coomer discovered Mike’s music through a streaming service and became a fan.

Decatur-based Killeen has a smooth, easy-on-the-ears voice comparable to that of James Taylor or Ron Sexsmith, which befits the album’s musically upbeat, breezy tunes. As with past albums, guitarist/pianist/vocalist Killeen – founder of Amplify My Community, the impoverished/homeless-focused charity responsible for the annual Amplify Decatur concerts and other events – wraps the bulk of the songs in varying degrees of rootsy rock (here with Joe Garcia on lead guitar, Ted Pecchio on bass and Coomer on drums), but there’s a softer sheen to the recordings on Ghost, aided by mellotron and other key-based instruments, mandocello and harmonies from Kristen Englenz and Nathan Beaver. The romantic reflection on youthful freedom and idealism, “Total Nonsense and Drunk,” gets the sturdiest treatment, rattling the bottles off the shelves of the barroom walls. Most of the songs revolve around the subject of love, in various proximities. As everyone on Planet Earth would say, I can relate!

Ghost officially hits the market on May 17, but Mike will perform a release concert for it with his band at Eddie’s Attic on Friday, May 10, and surely there’ll be copies for sale, because why wouldn’t there be? Englenz opens at 7 p.m.