The guys of Gravel Town create high expectations for the successor
The release of the debut album of the band Gravel Town has taken quite a while. And that’s putting it mildly when your first album is released in 2014 after you started in 2007 and immediately play on a big festival like Benátská Noc in the Czech Republic. Yet this is the case with the guys of Gravel Town and maybe that’s a good thing. Good wine needs to age and that also seems to be the case with the songs of this band. Tracks that have all developed into beautiful compositions over the years.
The influences of the band are very recognizable in all the songs. Of the ‘old-time music’ that lead singer Michel Ebben claims to get his inspiration from, to the sounds of Matchbox Twenty, where bass player and cousin Martijn Ebben likes to listen to. At times Michel’s voice (in conjunction with the harmonica) makes you really think of the old Dylan or even Tom Waits. It makes ‘From Grace’ have a very familiar sound from a ‘new’ band.
Opening track ‘From grace’ is musically very strong, the raw voice of the singer blends well with the lilting steel guitar. The upbeat nature of the first few songs makes that you cannot get fully into the atmosphere Gravel Town tries to create. That really starts to work from track number four ‘Room with a view’, then you find yourself alone in a hotel room in the rough Wild West overseeing your miserable life. The band holds on tight to this feeling and especially this atmosphere for the rest of the album.
The only cover on the album, ‘Hold on for your love’ by John Hiatt, shows the band’s qualities very clearly. With fine background vocals and surging guitars it sounds like a song that can lead to a huge climax when performed live. And given the time it took to record an album, clearly performing live is what this band prefers doing. The last two songs on the album, ‘Sleep in church’ and ‘For the love of Marie’, are real jewels. The melancholic sounds of the first let you feel the pain of the traveler without a home and the second is a sensitive love song with a twist. If you really listen to the lyrics you can hear the pain where Michel loves to sing and write about.
With ‘From Grace’, the band delivered a very fine first album. A record that firmly ensures that the musicians will reach more stages, both national and international. Let’s hope the sequel takes less time.
Olaf de Groot
Translated from the original Dutch article with consent of the author