Andrew Grimm – A Little Heat
Andrew Grimm – an English professor & singer-songwriter – has long been associated with Baltimore, Maryland regional roots band June Star. Formed in 1998 they’ve played for over 20 years. For those unfamiliar, June Star blends country with rock & roll. Some have compared them to The Replacements, Lou Reed, Alex Chilton’s Big Star & Chuck Prophet. Not necessarily the definition of Americana & alt-country.
Fortunate enough to have Eric Ambel (former Del-Lords) Andrew’s new 10-cut LP A Little Heat (drops October 30 – WhistlePig Records) comes with Grimm’s deep-toned voice that has rural sensibilities. Not quite as distinctive as the bass-baritone of the Crash Test Dummies’ Brad Roberts, Grimm is, however, in that neighborhood.
I like Grimm’s lyrics – not cheesy country as the standard Nashville fare. There’s a semblance to it & the tunes seem well-thought-out. By the 2ndtrack “Uh Huh,” Grimm maintains his Roberts’ depth but goes into a J.J. Cale groove. Nicely done. While Grimm still doesn’t have The Del-Lords punchy tradition, & dynamic (“Dream Come True”) Grimm does have their spirit in spades. I’m not saying Grimm sounds like the Del-Lords – his voice & songs have the relevant alt-country, roots, Americana tradition they conveyed in the 80s. His songwriting exhibits originality & he’s managed to sculpt a creative niche of his own, framed by Eric Ambel.
“The Machine” though poignant seems to tilt toward a Lou Reed niche. “Take Me to the Light,” is obviously Reed influenced vocally & performed admirably. But comparing Grimm to Reed conjures inaccurate images. Reed, after all with his Velvet Underground-gritty Lower East Side bite, is thought more of the author of such classics that focused on heroin, Venus in Furs, Andy Warhol, debauchery, transvestites & whores.
I don’t hear much of that VU type approach in Grimm’s tunes. Hints of solo Reed, yes. But wholly Reed, no.
Grimm can get edgy when he sings about money. He has one song that’s definitely not radio fodder. Some listeners won’t agree with everything Grimm sings about, but they should listen to the music & performance. It’s all done strikingly. Nothing is addressed that taints the material. Though that could be a tightrope for an artist. You don’t want to alienate an entire audience. Despite as he said, he threw some “sucker punches” Grimm isn’t Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, or Joan Baez.
Andrew (acoustic guitar), Eric (lead guitar), Dave Hadley (pedal steel), Brian Simms (accordion), Kenny Soule & Earle Z. Drummond, Jr. (drums), ellen cherry & Mary Lee Kortes (harmonies). Produced by Eric Ambel. Downloadable at the AppStore. https://junestar.bandcamp.com/track/dont-die-for-their-money