While there isn’t anything new or revolutionary here the 11-cut Grant Hill and M.O.S. – fly (Independent – Drops Feb 19th) is filled with well-recorded tunes, excellent musicianship & LA’s EastWest Studio sound from producer Les Camacho (Iggy Pop, Massive Attack).
Lots have been previously explored but when I close my eyes & listen, I hear what made some lesser-known bands so memorable to my ears: the Michael Stanley Band (still recording/performing), Big Back 40 (“Blood”), & the C. Gibbs Band (“Drag the Ashes”).
Grant Hill (acoustic guitar) has presence & the band supports his expressive vocals as the late Michael Been’s were with The Call (“Let the Day Begin”), & Mark Germino (“Fields of Man’s New Order”).
“Whisper,” & “My First Friend” are instantly dynamic – good melodies, lyrics & performance. These are songs recorded with such clarity on guitars, drums & vocals that they tempt repeated listens. The CD is paced strongly with tracks 3-6 playing to their strength.
The material is not rushed, sounds well-rehearsed without losing the soul of the song & planned with care. Each cut starts with inventive variations. Little of this sounds cliched. Each is a child with their own personality. This is a seasoned band. It’s a pleasure to listen to them let loose confidently on good music with friskiness & precision. It’s like a creamy cheesecake – you can’t have just one slice. But…
These aren’t sweet pieces. There’s sassiness – “Welcome to This Life,” is just a rollicking ass-kicker that smokes just short of being ablaze. But being ablaze would make it hard rock & this is not hard rock – this is fluent stuff. They all know how to get from A to Z without tripping over themselves or showboating. “Sticks n Stones,” crackles & is a well-crafted tune.
Not all musicians appear on every track – Mitch Perry (electric/acoustic guitar), Simrin Phull, Marc Strommer (electric guitars), Jared James Nichols (electric guitar/slide/mandolin), the late Orlando Sims (bass), Edwin Livingston, & Hal Cragin (basses), Devin Lebsack (drums), Rafael Padilla (percussion), Nelson Bragg (percussion/bv), Joel Stites (keys/organ/B3), Larry Logan (B3), The Men of LACA gospel choir conducted by Tony Jones, with backing vocals by Tai & Durga McBroom.
Finally, cut 10 “Moonshine, ” closes with strong vocals & poignancy & trudges along with a mannered men’s choir, acoustic clarity & high torque drive. Delightful. Memorable. I believe my only criticism: a lack of a lyric insert. The CD package is beautiful on the inside spread. Laminated color images, but the design is simplistic.