This wonderful — and there’s no other word for it — album is a debut from Liverpool-based, Dublin-born singer/songwriter Dave O’Grady but he’s clearly a man who’s spent his life making music.
Early plays reminded us of Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, whose New Earth Mud has been a staple in the Review Corner since its release in 2003, with its folky blend of blues, country and rock, all played well. O’Grady cites CCR’s John Fogarty as a role model, and early plays reveal that in the vocals.
But then, the more you play it, the better it gets, and better: it’s a layered album that keeps revealing treasures. Despite the rock elements, it’s a laid-back collection, none more so than opener Celtic Wanderings, which blends chilled vocals with strings and gentle twanging steel guitar. Home picks it up a bit more, but it’s still relaxed.
Down The River opens with some impressive snare work — all the musicians are top class — and O’Grady gives more than a nod to Fogarty in a funky, bluesy, southern boogie. Runway is pretty funky with its repeated rock riff and gritty vocals from O’Grady, while Lowly Lou is a heads-down country rocker. Royal Call on the other hand is back in the country camp.
We also like Petty Tyrant for its piano intro (a slowed down take of Killers’ All These Things That I’ve Done) but the standouts include the world-weary Far From Golden (another piano intro), which is more than six minutes long, with a summer of love chorus and a relaxed vibe. But there’s a nice hiatus for a piano solo about three and a half minutes in, before a tidy drum fill, a bit more piano and then a technical but chilled guitar solo from 4mins 30 to the end. (It’s followed by the atmospheric closer No Wasted Words).
The band they remind us most of are Graffiti era Led Zep, not for the monumental rock songs but for the more acoustic/country moments that Zep were so good at — there’s more than one moment of guitar/keyboards on this that made us think of Zep (most notably on Sister).