A few weeks ago, Michel Ebben distinguished himself in a positive manner as guitarist / producer on the excellent debut album of his musical soulmate Bregje Sanne Lacourt. On From Grace, the first major leap of his band Gravel Town, he does it all once again, assisted by his good buddies Mark Lubeek (drums), Hans Glerum (guitar) and cousin Martijn Ebben (bass guitar). Gravel Town does not take their inspiration at the Coolsingel in Rotterdam or in the sleepy Anglo-European pop and rock culture, but directed their musical binoculars at the music that sounds in the bars and clubs along the dusty Interstate 35 leading to San Antonio and especially to Austin. This album offers gritty but sophisticated Americana with respectful nods to good folks like Ry Cooder, Lowell George, John Mellencamp, and sometimes even a touch of Rolling Stones, but then the American version of them can be heard (just listen to the intros of Room With A View and For The Love Of Marie).
What helps make From Grace so successful, is the beautiful timbre that is sustained from the first to the last note. The songs of Ebben and his fellows sound full, but there is never any excess. In a slightly firmer song like Ghost Of Modern Times the drums sound a bit more rocky, some open power chords can be heard and the bass pumps more exuberant than in the other songs, but it is always done with care. Care also plays a big role in mid-tempo songs like Cradle Of Joy, no. 2 and Middletown Avenue (twice a beautiful background choir with Bregje Sanne Lacourt, Demet Köysüren and Marinka Stam joining the band for these songs). Just when you think the songs might start to go over the top, they stop. But I prefer to hear Gravel Town in atmospheric songs like Hold On For Your Love, where Tom Petty is peeking around the corner, and the previously cited Room With A Viewand For The Love Of Marie. For me it’s these songs that give that extra bit of shine and brilliance to this convincing debut. On From Grace Rotterdam is located off Interstate 35 and the city seems to feel quite all right with that.
Translated from the original Dutch article with consent of the author