Connor Garvey – Another End of a Year
Portland, Maine’s Connor Garvey explores the typical experience of life & loss & with a purposeful observation through 11 songs on his 8th release. Cut 1 “The Boat,” is airy with beautiful backup vocals by Sorcha Cribben-Merrill who echoes Garvey’s good lyrics, layered with his fine guitar & a little touch of drama but not too much.
Garvey (acoustic guitar) focuses on some well-nurtured subjects. While not as dark as the late Nick Drake, John Martyn, or as diversified as Neil Young, the material does have lyrical explorations unlike the dribble of many modern singer-songwriters who sing the most simplistic words in the vocabulary.
“Break the Cage,” has an intrinsic lounge-jazz groove with trippy lead guitar lines. But it’s the backup singer again that shadows Garvey’s vocal with skill. The music on this is dramatic with fluid intensity – yet, again, just enough & not too much.
The 45-minute CD Another End of a Year (Drops July 21–Nine Athens) is filled with rhythmic punch & interesting melodies. “Water To The Well,” is dynamic. The addition of Sorcha’s vocals beside Garvey adds color. Some songs have a plainness but between their two voices, the song’s character emerges. The showcase with her voice is the perfect decoration to give these songs their necessary clear weather performance. And it’s consistent. Connor isn’t afraid to tackle some heavy-duty subjects (“The Song”).
Keyboards by Ben Cosgrove are beautifully rendered in “Will of the Trail,” surrounded by a grungy lead guitar that never intrudes but supports the near-Bruce Hornsby piano flow. Excellent. “Lock Me Away,” is a little closer to the mainstream. The guitar is exceptional. The unified vocals have a duality in their personality. It makes the simple song more enchanting simply by their intense poignant performance.
Not all songs are laden with creativity, but they do have charm. “The Man I Want To Be,” is typical with elementary lyrics & approach. But it’s the intent that’s plaintive & it does surface. This one reaches a bit in its plead & could’ve been a bit more powerful if an upright piano played instead of the thin mandolin lines.
“Shine, Shine, Shine” is alright but this unfolds slowly like a David Gray song. The simplicity follows an age-old form & is cliché-heavy. Not of the same value as the first 4 songs on this CD & not in the same class as “Water To The Well” which is excellent as well as compelling.
Connor’s vocal has these types of songs tied up tight. He still needs to explore the edge, far & away from the typical singer-songwriter menu. Other musicians on this project include Pete Morse (electric guitar), Dan Boyden (percussion) & Colin Winsor (bass).
Color image: Lauryn Hottinger. CD @ Spotify & https://www.connorgarveysongs.com/
Video Premiere — https://americanahighways.org/2022/06/14/video-premiere-connor-garvey-water-to-the-well/