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16 December 2016 (released)
17 February 2017
Once an artist has found a sound or a way of writing, it can be very difficult to break free from it. Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist producer Guy Grogan has released an impressive nine albums before his most recent release, Glitter in the Gears. Although his work is always a version of alternative rock, his influences are eclectic and each song takes on a different personality. The comparisons to Elliot Smith, Dinosaur Jr., and Rivers Cuomo are easily made and those influences poke their heads up at various times in his work but the overarching similarity has to be a Bob Dylan-singing-The Gin Blossoms drawl. His previous album, Dynamite Bouquet was a decent set of alt-rock ditties but by the end, the repeated moaning snarl grew tiresome. On Glitter in the Gears, Grogan has opened himself up to soaring vocal harmonies and triumphant melodies, giving hope to the song’s struggles. This album is more confident, more alive and some of his best work.
The opener ‘Anatomy of a Crush’ has Grogan slipping into a slick ’80’s croon on and off giving a drastic counterpoint to the straining singer-songwriter voicing of the verses. An impassioned bridge carries into a hooky solo. The Sante Fe singer gives his ode to unrequited love.
‘House For the Leaving’ is a tender acoustic piece. Soothing fingerpicked guitar underpins Grogan’s soft voice bringing to mind City and Colour. ‘Aelegy’ and ‘Where the Hearts Go’ also demonstrate his strength with softer material. His playing is subtle and his harmonies are beautiful.
Glitter in the Gears shows Grogan breaking out of his box and exploring new musical territory. The songs are solid however the drums still leave something to be desired and there’s still a little too much groan in the vocals for this journalist’s taste. There is sure to be a quick followup for this prolific writer so I’m sure Grogan’s palette will continue to expand.