Tuesday, June 12, 2012

David Robert Griggs - "Dearly Departing" EP

Singer-songwriter David Robert Griggs can relate to Johnny Cash’s classic song, “I’ve Been Everywhere” and what those nomadic experiences can bring out of a songwriter’s music.  Griggs was born in England and then moved to Sydney, Australia.  After living there for sixteen years, he then landed in Portland, Oregon to pursue his music career.  But even after finally settling in to America, his restlessness again took him to Amsterdam for three months to write and record his debut EP Dearly Departing.  The self-released EP, just recently released and available in the iTunes store or at his website, is made up of four songs of intimate and emotionally charged, well crafted acoustic chamber-folk.  Dearly Departing has a definitive theme carried out during its four songs, though I wouldn’t consider it a “concept” album.  Lyrically, he sings about the intimate moments in life where you find yourself in an introspective mood after a big event like the end of a relationship, and he focuses on the closure or lack thereof as well as the spark that a new beginning can bring.  It is a universal theme that is easily relatable and even easier when placed into the poetic hands of Griggs.            
“Net Zero” opens the album with a cyclical fingerstyle guitar figure, sweeping violin and twinkling piano and also introduces us to David Robert Griggs’ deep and dynamic David Gray-like voice and homespun, Americana melodies.  The next track, “In The North” begins and ends with a Gospel-inspired choir of voices that reaches for the rafters with their meditative harmonies before a slow yet insistent gentle guitar comes in and blends with the violin into a fittingly chilling atmosphere for a song about loss and regret.   Stand out track “If Only” follows with hypnotic guitars, lilting vocals and the EP’s most immediately catchy moment on the sing along chorus, “And I wish I was your friend, but above all else I wish you well.”  It is that type of nostalgia-laced sentimentality that resonates throughout this set of songs that fully engages and transports the listener.  And the too short EP closes with the equally too short track, “Elysian Fields Getaway” and features close knit harmonies, a propulsive guitar riff, a staccato piano melody and Biblical imagery for another stand out moment.  I know it is cliché for music critics to say “it leaves you wanting more” but in some cases it is absolutely true and this is one of those cases.  Griggs’ music is inviting and engaging; funneling in all of his experiences, good and bad, and then channeling them through his music for the listener to live in.  That is what great folk music is all about.  
Hopefully, a proper full length album will be released soon because the organic folk, ornate arrangements and unique storytelling of the Dearly Departing EP makes for a promising debut that should put singer-songwriter David Robert Griggs on the Americana and folk music radar.  Well, that is if he can stay still long enough! 

For more info: http://www.davidrobertgriggs.com/


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