Andrew Gregory – S/T (CD)

Andrew Gregory – S/T / 2005 Self / 12 Tracks / / Reviewed 29 September 2005

It is almost an immediate thing that the beautiful voice of Andrew hits the listener; “The Line” may be a sparsely-arranged track, but the harmonics achieved by Gregory is equivalent to a full symphony orchestra in that aspect. The slower tempo of “Up Over The Ocean” shows a weakness in Gregory’s vocals as ey tries to rise too quickly In terms of vocals.

The instrumentation is still Spartan and soft; the hint of strings on the track provides the only bass-like quality to the track. Gregory’s style with the guitar is not anything that has been heard before; this is not the overplayed frat rock of a million people and their acoustic, but neither is Gregory’s music the intense, driven protest music of acts like Phil Ochs. In a sense, Gregory looks back to the woodsy sound of the new-Americana movement, recalling in spirit (not really the sound) of individuals like Devendra Banhart and early Hayden. The light hint of the twinkling blues piano during “All Your Things” really makes Gregory’s vocals fall even closer to that brand of music. What is a really disconcerting sound is that the smooth vocals of Gregory – at times recalling both Barenaked Ladies and Fastball – can emote on such heavy matters. Some of the tracks show a certain human weakness to Gregory; tracks like “Maria” are strengthened by the almost quavering-vocals of Gregory during the track. In a sense, it is not that ey messed up, but like the best actors ey really sells the idea of a distraught singer-songwriter mourning over a lost love.

The most major derivation from the complete sound of the disc comes in the reggae-infused “Electricity”. Honestly, if Gregory didn’t have such a distinctive vocal tenor, chances are that this would fit perfectly on any world music hour. This album has its ups and downs, but to think that such a full album comes from what is essentially someone with only their voice and an acoustic in a studio – it is just an amazing thing. The disc is fun and enthralling, and is impressive even if one factors in the penchant for Gregory to choose the goofiest subject material for some of eir tracks (DB Cooper, Laundromat Song). Gregory is miles beyond anything that the frat kids in the coffee houses can come with, and really, isn’t being better than daddy’s little mistake a goal that everyone can strive for?

Top Tracks: Electricity, Up Over The Ocean

Rating: 5.1/10

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