[Review] Grumblewood – Stories of Strangers

Grumblewood is a Progressive Folk band from New Zeland formed in 2016, whose sounds are strongly inspired by the 70s. This quartet released their debut album “Stories Of Strangers” on November 6, 2020 via Gravity Dream Music, transporting us back in time around 50 years. The 8 tracks that make up this full-length have been played and recorded with vintage instruments, giving the impression of being in the presence of a Jethro Tull or Horslips album. The comparison with Jethro Tull is inevitable, as in addition to following the same musical vein, the frontman Gav Bromfield plays the flute like Ian Anderson, even if Grumblewood do not just copy and paste from the past but insert personal ideas. The opener “My Fair Lady” beginwith an intro with the sounds of the sea and the sound of the seagulls on which Blues guitar riffs and a killer bass line are inserted, which will be one of the pillars of the abum. The intertwining of Eelectric Folk, Blues and Rock is of exquisite workmanship and with this being the longest track on the album, the band introduces itself and showcases all the facets that make up their sound. The tempo changes are continuous and are a real added value, while the vocal alternates solo and choral parts even here as for the music we return to the 70s, with pleasure and both the song and the band seem very inspired. “Picturesque Postcard” has softer, more dreamy melodies, with a warm and expressive vocal, with instruments entering slowly as the song flows. The intensity also increases with each passing minute. Well elaborated and with the intensity that increases with the passing of the minutes, good ideas in the instrumental parts of both flute and guitar with the usual bass lines that guide the sound. A thick and elaborate bass line and the flute that intertwine and “Castaways” kicks off and a duet of male and female voices is also inserted. The Jethro Tull sounds are felt here with the flute inserts and the electric guitar that recall the pre-Aqualung period. The instrumental part is of a high level with the guitar as the great protagonist, with the return of the sung in the end the track closes, one of the best of the album. “Fives & Nines” is characterized by a more massive sound, with a hypnotic bass and distorted guitar that makes the sound harsher. The vocal takes up the style of the English bands of the early 70s, while the flute guides the melodies offering excellent ideas. The tempo changes are valuable, with the bass real added value and the development of the piece at times intricate makes this one of the highlights of the disc, even the short mandolin solo is good. “The Sheriff Rides” is another thick song, one of the best for composition and execution, mixing all the right ingredients that make up the sloro sound. The usual supporting bass, with a melody that remains in the head and an expressive and engaging vocal as well as music with positive rhythms and melodies. The drum is very rhythmic and adds a cheerful tone to the music that gives us a pleasant old-fashioned Folk-Rock. “Ex Memoriam” is another track that best blends the characteristics of a Folk ballad with the structure and distorted guitars of Rock. The vocal is more aggressive and in the tempo changes and in the instrumental passages they catapult us into the Jethro Tull territory, without making risky comparisons but this song could easily have come out of one their 70s record. Here we are at the longest track of the album “The Minstrel,” with its 8 minutes of duration, also here as in the opener we can say that it is a perfect summary of the band’s sound. All the elements that make up their personal style are perfectly blended with Jazzy cues that bring the sound to a high level. This band has technique and talent and in tracks like these they put them on the field offering us unique musical passages. The album closes with the title track “Stories of Strangers” which is another fine intertwining between Folk and Rock, soft and harder sounds. The perfect addition for this album, which follows and concludes the musical discourse.

Tracklist

01.My Fair Lady (07:30)
02.Picturesque Postcard (04:42)
03.Castaways (05:17)
04.Fives & Nines (04:35)
05.The Sheriff Rides (06:02)
06.Ex Memoriam (03:07)
07.The Minstrel (08:00)
08.Stories of Strangers (05:27)

Lineup

Gav Bromfield / Lead Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Piano
Salvatore Richichi / Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, Harpsichord, Backing Vocals
Morgan Jones / Bass, Harspichord, Backing Vocals
Phil Aldridge / Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

With:
Naomi Middleton / Additional Vocals
Kirsty Campbell / Additional Vocals

Grumblewood |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Twitter|Spotify|YouTube Channel|

Gravity Dream Music |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|Instagram|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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