Ray Greiche,
Everything's Fine
(self-produced, 2000)

The term "easy listening" has been shanghaied by hideous saccharine love songs and self-absorbed lullaby tunes. That's a shame, for I've rarely found an album more truly easy to listen to than Ray Greich's Everything's Fine. From the first lines of "Too Good To Be True," it's a porch swing of an album, inviting and comfortable and a good place to do some thinking. The songs are honest, memorable, and almost incessantly playable.

Greiche has a way of presenting even simple lyrics with a pacing and style that makes them hit home. The observation in "On Your Side" that "strange things can happen ... they usually do" looks simplistic written out, but Greiche's delivery cracks me up every time I hear it. Since the album bounces between songs of love found and love lost, it's no small trick to make each song carry a distinct feeling. The mad, self-hating joy of "South of Heaven" is far removed from the resigned despair of "All For Nothing," but both are tangible leftovers of failed relationships. The misleadingly named "Everything's Fine" hopscotches through a confusion of hurt feelings and fond memories and feels just as real as the raw grief and slow waltz of "All For Nothing."

The sheer ease of the sound Greiche creates can become deceptive. Wrapped in the easy flow of "On Your Side," moving through the bluer sound "South of Heaven" to the sweet cadence of "You Are The One," it's easy to drift off into the music and not notice how plain good any one song is. There are no jarring shifts in Greiche's folk-rock style. "Trying to Get to Know You Again" borrows a little more from the rock side of the spectrum, but the transition feels natural and blends with the album as a whole. There's plenty of subtle variation, but Greiche is clearly sure enough of his own sound to work his style to its fullest without feeling compelled to show off.

As simple as the Everything's Fine sounds on the first hearing, it manages to save hidden layers for later hearings. Greiche has created songs that can be quiet companionship for a busy afternoon, or tangible comforts when time allows careful listening. With an album this good, the only complaint can be with its length. Seven songs are just not enough. Until Greiche hands over another album, Everything's Fine will at least feel new for years.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 7 June 2003

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