Time for a new album from Dave Graney and Clare Moore
The opening slinky blues pop of “Baby I Wish I’d Been A Pop Star” marks another leap forward in the Dave Graney and Clare Moore canon. This time with the two Stu’s – Perera and Thomas – collectively as The MistLy – they have produced a classic album for the end of the second decade of the 21st century. An album of eight songs in thirteen versions takes elements of the previous album and run of digital singles and develops them into something recognisable, but also uniquely modern, and, of course “Graney”.
The autobiographical “Near Death Experience” (in joke) of “Song Of Life” gives you the typically gnomic album title as you drift into Graney lounge jazz territory, an effortless “velvet fog” performance, with intricate guitar patterns. The omnipresent cowbell of “Ultrakeef” with more “fucks” than Malcolm Tucker on a bad day (beating “Death by A Thousand Sucks” by a long way) is a mini-biography of Mr Richards in typical Dave story-telling mode, picking key elements from a complex life history, over a Stones-like blues romp which wouldn’t have been out of place on “Eat A Peach”, and which makes Lofgren’s “Keith Don’t Go” feel a little anodyne in comparison.
The remake of last years “Gloria Grahame” single is a triumph. Morphed into a loping languorous blues it becomes even more sexy/sultry/sweaty than the original version, little additional sound forms skitter across the cinematic landscape, slide guitar in full effect, sprinkles of keyboards from Robin Casinader, a little like the subject matter it is both alluring and dangerous. The track is built up from a live track recorded at Smiths in Canberra in October 2018.
The remake of “Your Masters” (originally on The Dave Graney Show album) is a necessary action in the context of the political world we find ourselves in 2019. As relevant lyrically now as it was twenty one years ago – which probably indicates that either nothing changes or we are in some sort of Groundhog Day/Matrix loop. Perera provides a searing guitar line as a bridge and the song is refreshed and refreshing.
As trailed on various You Tube/Facebook live recordings last year the dreamy psychedelia of “Is That What You Did” is all about interlocking guitars as Clare and Stu hold the rhythm whilst Dave and t’other Stu trade licks, many pushed through various digital delays and other such things, to create a rich tapestry of sound which echoes Micky Jones and Tweke Lewis trading licks on “Back to the Future”. The sound is taken down to a simple rhythm pattern as bottle necks scrape lower strings and then builds into louder passages as chittering bridge noises echo into the night. Exceptional.
“Where’s My Buzz” – another lengthy track, has that effortless dreamy vibe of parts of “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” – those chord changes! Probably the most “Dave” track on the album but incorporating many of the elements present in other parts of the set, the delicate filigrees of guitars dancing around in the background.
The slight revision of “You’re All Wrong” – a single from 2018 – extends the song slightly and gives it more body/space….another lounge blues – ends the formal part of the album after that there are five alternate versions of some of the preceding.
“Pop Star” is delivered as a slow blues, Graney a laconic narrator, some tasteful guitar tones underlying a dreamy, almost sad, reflection. The melody line from “Is That What You Did” subliminally making it’s way into the closing section makes for some sort of conceptual continuity. The revised “Song Of Life” is a remix and longer with occasional little synth motifs and slightly busier percussion which is more to the fore. The alternative of Gloria Grahame is the “original electro glitch” which is essentially a metronomic snare and cymbal rhythm from a drum machine underpinned by various synth sounds and was a released as a single in 2018.
The album concludes with alternate versions of “Is That What You Did” and “Where’s My Buzz” which will require further examination from this listener to compare and contrast, suffice to say after a couple of listens they add to the overall enjoyment of the album.
This is described as a “rock and roll” album and in that it reflects music from the late 60s/early 70s (pre-punk if you will) that is a reasonable description but i’d say it goes beyond that basic description as there are modern elements, nods to jazz, the use of current technique, and of course the unique Graney/Moore stylings all present. It adds to and enhances a formidable body of work.
I commend it to you without reservation.