Review of From Grace –

Success seems to have been easy for Gravel Town. Most starting bands start playing in bars and small music venues. For Gravel Town the adventure started in 2007 by playing Benátská Noc; one of the biggest festivals in the Czech Republic, a bit like Lowlands in Holland. They were still playing under the name The Plastic Shark Project then. In 2008 they were asked back at the festival as one of the few foreign acts. This is all very nice of course, but they have the obligation to the fans to have a physical souvenir of these performances and of the band. Therefore the men now introduce their debut album: From Grace.

The album was recorded in the village of Harcigny in the French countryside. You can hear that this was a great inspiration for the guys and that this was the ideal place for them to record the album. Indeed, the atmosphere of the outdoors including the countryside, cows and sheep, the pub and all the other things that belong to a small farming village, perfectly fit into the mood of the album. From Grace has both a certain modesty, but on the other hand still gives you everything you expect from a country rock / Americana album. The record contains a high diversity of sounds. Highlights with howling electric guitar solos and ballads with soothing acoustic strumming, it’s all in there. Also the first single, ‘Cold September Day’ can be found on the album.

The lyrical and musical mastermind in the band is Michel Ebben. Armed with his love for American roots rock he sings the lead vocals and gives just that extra edge to the whole with his raw, seasoned voice. In his lyrics he sings about many different subjects and a couple of these songs also autobiographical. ‘Room With A View’ is about the period when he suffered a burn-out and had to contend with agoraphobia. “I’ve got a room with a view, sometimes it turns black. And I need to go outside, but something’s holding me back. And there’s only one door, so there ain’t no compromise. And when it shuts, it just closes my eyes.” The lyrics show that Ebben is able to create visions that enable the listeners to take a look into his life.

It is thus seen that there is definitely thought about composing this debut. From Grace is versatile, expressive and no matter how often you listen to the album, it will not bore you. The emotion is in the narrative vocals, the harmonies and the melodies of the guitars. The overall sound is not one in a dozen, but it is one that stays with you well.

Jennifer Worrell


Translated from the original Dutch article with consent of the author