One recent treasure has come from a friend on the Television list, Greg Grant. While I knew he was a great guy with good taste, his CD reveals him to be an inventive guitarist with a great gift for melody and an understanding of restraint, and I for one am very happy to have heard his debut instrumental disc, The Disappearance.
Greg exhibits a light, subtle touch throughout, in both his guitar playing and in his arrangements, in which two guitars, bass, and drums fit together crisply and smartly, with space for each to breathe. Greg's leads are spare and graceful, and his second guitar lines have a rhythmic and melodic interest of their own. With his melodic bass playing and drum arrangements that support the tunes and yet vary themselves, the effect is something like a whole-band counterpoint.
Greg's tasteful choices of tones and arrangements hit you right off with "Tunnel," an upbeat tune with a loping, locked-in groove. The parts fit together beautifully, and one of the treats here the bass's accents during the verses. It's all about the whole picture, in which everything works together.
His command of atmospherics is readily apparent on "Bass Loop," "Storm," and "November," which both feature lovely steel-guitar-style swells. In "November," the lead and steel accent trade places at the bridge in a striking shift of perspective--one example of the many subtle arrangement decisions that makes these tunes work so well. "November"'s initial echoey sparseness gradually builds to an assertive strength, making a striking return to the spaciousness of the beginning.
The title track is a cool, slippery noirish tune , alternatingly dark with rubbery vibrato leads and coy with muted strums and graceful trills, appropriate for a darkly comic detective film, in which the darkness of the verses builds tension, the bridge refines it, and the chorus resolves it. A similar compositional control of tension and release shows up on "Serpent Straits," in which tremelo and vibrato lead on offbeats that generates a phenomenal amount of rhythmic interest, leading to sparse choruses in which the lead and rhythm work together to evoke open, distant horizons.
As reflective as the CD can get, it's not without its jokes, such as the knowingly comic theme of "Little Steps" (one envisions hired detectives sneaking around a rock club), or the apparently serious "The Blue Waltz," which does indeed invite a slow, elegant turn around a dance floor, but reveals itself to be in 4/4!
Fine, but can Greg rock? Sure! Check out the swaggering "Osler" for starters, in which the rhythm guitar and drums swing hard, and the lead guitar and bass push each other further into bluesy aggression. In a minute and a half, it's over. "Glisten" is another rocker, with one of the most impressive transitions I've heard in a long time, with the tension of the verses (carried by a two-note fuzz guitar accent and one-note bass line) giving way to glorious release in the chorus.
That not enough? "Postcard" is the most aggressive tune on the disc, with hard tremelo-picked leads played with tension-and-release vibrato. The verses consist of that rhythmic interlocking that Greg does so well--and then we're hit with a bridge featuring a glorious edge-of-distortion solo! Greg departs from the song's schema, opening up further places to go...and it tune ends. You're going to have to see him live.
The Disappearance ends with "Demise," an atmospheric piece more delicate than the title suggests, a quiet showcase of guitar interplay inviting you to play the whole thing again. And you will. On the strength of this CD, I hope that we hear more from Greg, and that there will be more of his playing and arranging to listen to. The Disappearance is a great start. You can contact Greg at email@example.com.