Review of From Grace – MusicMeter

Gravel Town consists of four seasoned musicians. Michel and his cousin Martijn Ebben, Mark Lubeek and Hans Glerum (brother of the famous jazz bass player Ernst Glerum) and are all active in music for about twenty-five years now.

Gravel Town emerged from Plastic Shark Project, a group that was founded in 2007, in a slightly different structure. The name for the group was chosen during a band meeting, when a toy shark, a present from a girlfriend, happened to be on the table.

The former drummer Niels Vloemans arranged for them to play at the festival Benátská Noc, one of the largest Czech summer festivals. Niels Vloemans went to work with the festival organizer later and was replaced by Mark Lubeek.

In 2012 a plan was made to finally record the songs which they had been playing live for years. The band name was changed to Gravel Town that year. The foundation, like bass, drums and electric guitars, for From Grace were recorded in a farmhouse in France. The other instruments were recorded in Rotterdam by Michel Ebben. Hans Glerum did some overdubs of electric guitars and the acoustic score on Hold On For Your Love.

The songs which eventually made it to the CD were, besides the cover of Hiatts Hold On For Your Love and Middletown Avenue written by Mark Lubeek, all songs written by Michel Ebben (including 2 with cousin Martijn). Ebben chose songs he seldom plays during his solo performances.

He’s a busy guy, because in addition to Gravel Town, and his involvement with the album of Bregje Sanne Lacourt, he is busy preparing a solo album, which he hopes to release in early 2015. From Grace includes country, rock, blues and Americana songs.

Some songs are autobiographical, like the sad, but positively concluding Room With a View. It deals with the period in his early twenties when he was struck by a burn out and agoraphobia, and how small the world seems to be at that moment.

The beautiful For the Love of the Marie is about some memories from his youth and about his partner as well as a tragic family accident. Strong opening song From Grace is a about mistakes you can make in a relationship and making you fall from grace while you hope your partner will forgive or accept as you are.

He wrote Ghost of Modern Times some twenty years ago, around the age of eighteen. It is a classic protest song. It is also the oldest song that made it to From Grace. The beautiful, subdued Cold September Day and Sleep In Church were written by Michel and Martijn Ebben during a radio show at DrechtstadFM. They wrote and performed songs about the current news or anything else that occupied them while the show was in progress.

They also hosted their own show for the same radio station, Ebben Eruit!, with guests like for instance Johnny Dowd. Musicians that have influenced Ebben are John Hiatt, Guy Clark and David Olney amongst others.

I have listened to the album several times now and I cannot pick a favorite song yet. It still gets better every time I play it. I would especially like to give a big compliment for the beautiful guitar work on the album, both in the quiet and in the more rock-like songs. Also, there are some wonderful choirs on the album, which are sung by the ladies Demet Köysüren, Marinka Stam and Bregje Sanne Lacourt.

From Grace was excellently produced by Michel and Martijn Ebben. They also made the beautiful pictures in the booklet and the cover, which was photographed in Havana. From Grace has become a beautiful, balanced and authentic country, rock and Americana record, with no compromises. It deserves to be heard!

Theo Volk
MusicMeter / Johnny’s Garden


Translated from the original Dutch article with consent of the author