Album Reviews - Reviews

Grey Reverend – A Hero’s Lie


Getting tied up in a cycle of habitual listening is all too easy. Weeks can go by where Hip Hop turns to House, House turns to Techno, and Techno to IDM and so on until the breadth of music discovered becomes a cross to bear, outweighing the pleasure sought from the outset. Trapped, for lack of a better word, in one’s own rituals. With that in mind, breaking the habit with a chance discovery of an old favourite can be a useful exercise in re-calibrating one’s approach to musical tastes, if not a relief from the norm. As much as I enjoy electronica, John Martyn and Neil Young always make their way into my ears, serving as reminders to stop and enjoy a simpler, unassuming beauty. After discovering A Hero’s Lie, the latest offering from Grey Reverend (L.D. Brown), the decision to hold his brand of soulful folk in the same high esteem was easy.

‘Everlasting’ begins the album and gives a taste of the kind of intricate hand-picked guitar style to be found in a number of the coming tracks, but it isn’t just Brown’s technique that’s captivating; the chord progressions he builds may well have you second guessing as to where he’ll steer the tone of the tracks. This has everything to do with his background in musical theory and the jazz sentimentalities of his younger, studious days. ‘My Hands’ follows up with the same attributes but is a better showcase for Brown’s soothing voice and remarkable song writing. There is a string section at play here that is lush and vibrant, recalling the compositions of Nick Drake.

‘Only One’ is an example of the well-layered instrumentation that saturates the album – tremolo soaked guitar leads the way for the delicate organ work and the gentle patter of the percussion, which make for a genuinely beautiful listen. ‘The Payoff’ is perhaps the best track in which to find the influence of The Cinematic Orchestra, with whom Brown has had a period of successful, creative collaboration. There is a myriad of jazzy and deep tonal changes here, confident piano flourishes and a double bass that provides a rich, warming ambience to the track’s dynamic. ‘Little Hose’ is an instrumental guitar composition that acts as refrain, much in the same way that ‘Little Eli’ did on Brown’s last full-length Of The Days, and it’s enough to make any accomplished strummer envious.  Fate’ acts as a more than suitable farewell to the album and is a crescendo built from everything Brown has accomplished with this effort. Melodically exciting, instrumentally dextrous and rhythmically insistent, ‘Fate’ could conjure emotion from a statue.

It’s difficult to find flaws with Grey Reverend’s evolution from lo-fi folk musician to versatile artist because he hasn’t lost anything along the way, but rather built upon an already solid and commendable foundation.  Aaron Drain

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