Grey Eye Glances, |
A Little Voodoo
(Sojourn Hills, 2002)
The fact that this CD was even released shows Grey Eye Glances' relentless drive and energy. They started their professional musical careers with their own self-released CDs, recording under the name Sojourn. Later, they had to change their name; their final choice, Grey Eye Glances, is derived from an Edgar Allan Poe poem. A major label signed them; they released two discs with them, but wound up having to raise the funds to buy back their own material. Fans came to their aid, and later, fans also assisted them so that they could release new material once again, this time on an independent label.
You might think that their music would suffer from all of these upheavals. But perhaps the turmoil only added to their need to write and record music, for A Little Voodoo sees them in fine form. Two new permanent band members, guitarist/vocalist Brett Kull and drummer Paul Ramsey, join original members Dwayne Keith (keyboards and vocals), Eric O'Dell (bass and vocals) and Jennifer Noble (lead vocals).
Noble herself is in good voice on this album. There's always been a Sarah McLachlan-type quality to her vocals, but the opening track, "Close Your Eyes," really brings out that quality. By no means is she derivative of McLachlan, but there's a certain feel to her vocal twists that brings the Canadian singer to mind. In general, Noble sounds both completely natural and seductive on "Close Your Eyes," and she adds to that sound on "If I Was," the third track, a sexy-sounding rock number in itself.
A lot of the songs on this do seem more rock-driven than previous tryouts. This Philadelphia-area based group always had a folk-rock feel. While the folk feel hasn't disappeared, there definitely is more of a rockier edge to this new album. Luckily, however, the contemplative lyrics and music remain, regardless of acoustic or electrical instruments. "The One," "Keep On" and "He and She" may appeal to AAA-style radio station formats; they're more rock-oriented overall, but they retain the Grey Eye Glances stamp. Long-time fans might need to give the album a couple of listens in order to appreciate the band's current direction; but no matter which member of the group has worked on the music, they generally write thoughtful lyrics to match intelligent-sounding, yet catchy melodies. There's something to be said about a band that knows its sound that well yet is able to make slight changes in order to evolve.
"Good Folks," "All Because of You" and "Even," all penned by Keith, in particular, bring back the feel of more "traditional" Grey Eye Glances material, and they blend that lush sound with the sharper electric guitars quite nicely. Numbers such as "Big Red Boat," however, are much more indicative of the newer sound. It's a bouncy, fun song that features an interesting combination of instruments, including accordion, Hammond organ, electric sitar and baritone guitar. It's a song that probably goes over well live; I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it's found towards the end of their set list.
It's too bad that the band has been forced to regroup, so to say, in order to release their material. Is it indicative of today's music industry that performers with original sounds often are forced to work with their own labels or small independents to get the music out there? That said, however, it's good that there at least is an outlet for such intelligent and talented musicians.