Monday, April 27, 2015

REVIEW: The Granite Shore - Once More From The Top

On this blog we only write about music we like.  But even against that standard I consider Once More From The Top to be a special recording.  Special?  Why yes, special in so many ways.  It is a well-executed concept album about a fictional band, with Side A addressing the public side and Side B addressing the behind the scenes aspects.  The packaging looks beautiful, with different cover art for the CD and vinyl versions (the latter with a booklet including lyrics), and special box set editions as well.  But most importantly, it is special because of the quality of the music.  Stylish and charming pop songs benefiting from a warm and intimate delivery from a stellar group of musicians.  The Granite Shore is helmed by Nick Halliwell of The Distractions, and also head of Occultation Recordings, and includes Phil Wilson of the June Brides, Arash Torabi, Mike Kellie, Steve Perrin, Mike Finney, Probyn Gregory, Martin Bramah, and Bella Quinn.  I apologize to anyone I've forgotten.

One struggles to assign a genre to these songs.  Not quite, or not solely, folk, progressive, C86 or chamber pop, they succeed on the merits of strong melodies and sincere performances.  Perhaps in identifying a comparison one needs to consider a pop craftsmen such as Lee Hazlewood, Jacques Brel, The Go-Betweens, or, at his best, Kevin Ayers.  Of course, even the best song, and the most affecting melody, will miss its mark if the performance isn't sufficient.  But there is no danger that The Granite Shore will fail on that yardstick.  The worthy players contribute measured performances with no hint of ego.  For his part, songwriter and vocalist Halliwell envelopes the listener with tones like honeyed brandy.  In fact, I've taken to listening to this album late in the evening because something about the man's voice makes me think that everything in the world is alright.  My hunch is that in a few years this album will be considered one of those treasures that should have been better know when released.  Don't set yourself up for regret, check out Once More From The Top.

Once More From The Top is available from Occultation Recordings (see link).  Note that Occultation has released other fine records and also is the UK distributor for New Zealand super mini-label Fishrider Records, so if you place an order for this album they may be able to offer you a discount on other items that strike your fancy.

Occultation Recordings

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