Grumblewood – Stories Of Strangers: Album Review

UK prog rock label Gravity Dream has given us  a chance to introduce to you the excellent debut album  of progressive folk-rock group Grumblewood from New Zealand.

Release date :  6th November 2020

Label: Gravity Dream

Format:  CD / Digital

From the outset, we face an atmospheric opening as waves, birdsong and thunder draws you in with a clever bass solo riff from Morgan Jones. When intricate flute begins and with vocals from Gav Bromfield, this New Zealand based quartet have distinctly put us in the land of Tull. Inspired by early 70’s electric folk and fans of our beloved Fairport Convention too, they have created a super collection of original jazzy,  rocky songs following a folky idiom. It’s a bouncy, joyful, jigging opening with some pleasant choral harmony too.

Salvatore Richichi’s mandolin opens Picturesque Postcard with acoustic guitar, before a heavier riff accompanies the flute interspersed with more Anderson-like vocals. Gav Bromfield really comes into his own on Castaways with a superb flute solo and powerful vocals,  as does guitarist  Salvatore mixing both rocky riffs and solos.

As a quartet on Five And Nines, they master the art of each one being prominent but not overpowering each other and the jigging change of pace at the end is a joy. The Sherrif Rides blends light and heavy, jazz and folk with great skill, driven along by subtle bass and flamboyant beat from Phil Aldridge. As in Ex Memoriam, the changes in pace add texture and colour.

The Minstrel flows along hauntingly at first, then after some trilling minstrel flute, it explodes into a fusion of jazz and rock. Experience altered tempos and power,  with an intricate guitar solo,  first in the background then more to the fore. The album title track builds to an amazing crescendo featuring mandolin and bass providing a strong, forceful finale. 

To pay them my best compliment and to illustrate of how much I enjoyed their fresh interpretation of music gone by, many of their musical renderings would not be amiss on Songs From The Wood or Minstrel in The Gallery. The stories they weave follow familiar folklore themes entwined in their own wonderful musical twist on early 70’s folk-rock with splendid lulls and surges throughout. And why not?  If Ian Anderson and the boys put their own twist on Bach with Bouree,  who’s to say contemporary artists can’t emulate a hero or two of their own. 

This album from Grumblewood, which was recorded, mixed and mastered using vintage analogue equipment and production techniques to replicate 70s sound, deserves a listen.

Listen to Picturesque Postcard from Grumblewood below:

Grumblewood: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube

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