GREY REVEREND IS yet another one of many in total thrall to Nick Drake; so much so that on A Hero’s Lie, the shadow cast by Drake is almost all-encompassing.
Released on Ninja Tune sub-label Motion Audio, apparently owned by The Cinematic Orchestra for whom Grey Reverend has lent his dulcet tones in the past, it’s packed to the gills with introspective folk guitar picking and melancholy vocal emoting, and it’s Drake all over, minus the things that made his songs take flight – the smell of English pasture and mouldy old houses.
It’s intimate and lulling and very pleasant, but it entirely lacks Drake’s sense of otherworldliness, and his lyrics are routine baby-don’t-go fodder, dressed in corduroy.
Sorry to bang on about it, but ‘The Payoff’ even dares to replicate the whole Nick Drake instrumental palette with its acoustic guitar, roomy piano and acoustic bass, but for all that, he comes across more like a glum James Blunt than someone with genuine character and songwriting resonance.
By ‘Postcard’ (the second-to-last track) the soul-stirring strings had arrived, but sounded utterly meaningless matched with such humdrum lyrics; compare that to Drake, where the orchestral arrangements always reinforced the awful truth of his utter aloneness.
And it doesn’t even sound that good: his voice has a metallic edge that had me turning the volume down. Clearly, Ninja Tune are better arbiters of taste in the groove domain than they are with singers and songwriters. GARY STEEL
Music = 2.5/5
Sound = 2.5/5