than four years have passed since the release of
guitarist/vocalist Dean Grech’s first album “Look Out”.
Looking at the covers of that album and the new record “We
Got Lost” should have given me a clue to how much the
spotlight has switched from guitar to voice.
The opening song “Shake it Around” with its irresistible
groove, snazzy horns and 70’s style chants would not have
given me a clue, nor would the blissful samba “Playa Rosa”.
Not only is the acoustic guitar to the fore in the latter
song, the flute and percussion are a jazz fans’ delight. I’m
personally in familiar territory listening (and grooving) to
the instrumental “Let’s Go” and I defy any jazz fan not to
be drawn in by Hans Zermuehlen’s gorgeous Hammond B3 and by
Greg Vail’s gutsy alto sax solo.
I hope, and expect, that NAC stations will pick up the
lilting “Wishing You Were Here” with its relaxed atmosphere,
whispers of acoustic and electric guitar and wispy female
background vocals. Comparisons will similarly be drawn with
Peter White’s sound on the haunting “Love Song”, where the
female background vocals are complemented by Greg Vail’s
lovely soprano sax. I should mention that this is the only
song on the album which Dean did not write or co-write. The
bebop number “Altercation” is the most straight-ahead song
on the album and again that rockin’ Hammond B3 shares centre
stage with Grech’s own warm-sounding semi-acoustic.
In my review of “Look Out”, I expressed admiration for
Grech’s vocal style and he showcases the many things his
voice can do on this record. The funky title track features
that voice, with a tone so reminiscent of Michael Franks but
with a rasp that takes it to a different place. I had to sit
up and take notice during the opening bars of “Nothing
More”, which made me think instantly of Everything but the
Girl. It should do fabulously well on radio with its
insistent groove, repetitive chorus and slightly ethereal
atmosphere. I spent a large part of the 1980’s listening to
Matt Bianco and “You Don’t Know me Well” brings back great
memories of that sound – and that time. The acoustic guitar
touches are pretty but they are secondary to that
“I Don’t Think So” has a bleaker feel than the other songs
on this record and Grech sings in such a high register and
with particular phrasing that I actually thought of British
singer Sade. It’s startling – and I like it – but I had to
listen a couple of times. Some fabulous musicians have been
identified as much with their singing as with their playing,
and “Feeling I Can’t Undo” brings to mind Chet Baker. It’s a
lovely song because it’s steeped in jazz and it allows Grech
to bring two considerable talents together with no fuss, no
drama – it’s a really classy tune. At various points on this
record, a love for latin music is evident – and nowhere
moreso than on the sexy “Suddenly”, which again is
radio-friendly and catchy. If Michael Franks recorded this
next week, he’d have a hit with it.
This is really two reviews in one, because this is really
two albums in one. It’s clever, because elements are
instantly recognisable from “Look Out”, but existing fans
are really taken on a journey as a great guitar player
spends much longer in the vocal booth for “We Got Lost”.
Rocket Ride Records (2014) – Producers: Reggie Ashley and Dean Grech