What a lovely record! I found myself singing along with little harmonies on the first listen--that's unusual for me: I don't often find albums so catching right away. I usually have to hear things over and over until they either grow on me or don't. This album caught me, like so many of my favorites have.
Nick Talbot plays with beautiful, full guitar picking and builds melodies that sound lonely, but hopeful and promising, repeating patterns in and out of each other and swirling around to fill up the sound. The other instrumentation is subtle, just enough to lift the sound a bit but not overpower it--similar to the Cowboy Junkies in arrangement. His voice is lovely and soft, singing dark, thoughtfully constructed lyrics that thread well into the melodies. I can see where Nick Drake comparisons might come in, but it's a matter of biology and vocal chord shape more than any intention of his.
The first two songs of the album especially stand out to me: "Ice On Black Water" is gorgeous, a disturbing thing of beauty and numbness, and "The High Seas" makes me long for stories and car rides through the countryside back home. "Mountain" is another gently striking song, disillusionment isn't often that pretty.
This is Gravenhurst's first album--a second is in the making, and I'm looking forward to the development of this style. It is a distinctive style, one that carries the danger of all starting to sound the same, but I think so far they're doing well at keeping away from that pitfall. I'm a lyric/chorus listener, and in each song those remain sufficiently distinctive to keep things original and fresh. It's an excellent first album, with promises of wonderful things to come.
8Laurie Parker's Score