Drifting across boundaries, geographic, musical, comes Cary Grace, Somerset-based American, who I see getting a lot of review attention in my regular newsfeeds for psych sounds, and with justice because while the first 30 seconds of the opening title track had me wondering what was coming next – a discordant noisefest experiment – what does come next is an eclectic mix of psychedelic, progressive, jazz-fusion which moves from rich and rounded to minimalistic and bare by turn. I love it.
There’s a Pink Floyd aura to some of its early statements, part of a session from August 2014 recorded with Here & Now and Sentient’s Steffe Sharpstrings, and former Scissor Sisters keyboardist John Garden which is scattered through this record. It’s the laconic drawl of the intro to ‘Cyanide’, the second track on the album, and taken from that August work, that bursts into perfect melodic rock with Cary’s purposeful but not overpowering vocals which starts to say what a delight this one is going to be. It’s slick but edgy, rippled with sentiments of bitter frustration and building into a powerfully reflective moment. And then it twists away into ‘Orange Sky’, a much more sparse affair… I was listening to OMD’s Architecture & Morality for the first time in many years very recently; ‘Orange Sky’ has something of the hauntingly understated tones that something like ‘Sealand’ has, a feeling that even while it wraps into itself, it’s still describing a vista that is wide and open, desolate and strikingly beautiful. Its moods, Cary’s Minimoog generated, are introverted, but the space that it visualises is vast.
‘War Child’ shifts into blues rock, studied, sleazy and alive. Here, if this were a Waterboys song, I could hear Mike Scott and his drawling diction, pulling shapes with the words, expanding and stretching them, and Cary does a similar thing, getting every word loaded with meaning and articulated with purpose. But then, it’s not about it being a record that’s like this, or like that… it’s one of the most singular, distinctive albums that I’ve been sent in quite a while, and any comparison is just to say that it has qualities that stand it along side musicians and records that have meant things across the years, it has that sort of lasting quality to it.
That hard-bitten blues gives away to light and air, ‘Limelight’, where Cary stretches out into a summertime evening warmth that’s jazzy and pop, lazily feeling good and drifting with the flow, another one taken from last August’s session I believe, and if so then built on Steffi’s expressive guitar work, and certainly also predicated on Cary’s voice leaving that blues sound behind and finding lilt and breeze. Easy going, easy listening, easy to become immersed in and float away with.
From there, the strumming and gentle bass and drums rhythms that opens ‘Razorwire’ keeps the record bathed in that sense of brightness and enveloping warmth… you could give yourself to the song and never want to come back. ‘Into The Indigo’ echoes back to earlier work, noted as recorded during sessions for Cary’s ‘Perpetual Motion’ album which some lovely winding, roving, violin from sometime Gong musician Graham Clark that gives its new home an additional texture. And then its into a 20 minute experimental, improvised, artistic, poetic, and oft reflective piece of sound and word, ‘Windsong’ that takes this exceptional record to its conclusions.