t’s no secret that Graves have garnered a loyal underground following, with bandleader Greg Olin’s winning laissez faire vocals and melodic sensibility, Graves have topped a catalog of consistently satisfying releases with Easy Not Easy. His croon is understated, sweet, and earthy, but his sonic palate is decidedly experimental. He has a penchant for off-the-cuff, rickety solos and scrappy R&B grooves that turn the otherwise pretty, laid-back ballads on their ear. A number of songs off Easy Not Easy are downright dirty as Graves ratchet up the sex appeal with Nate Ashley’s bubbling bass lines and Brian Write’s easygoing Motown-styled rhythms. Multi-instrumentalist Cory Gray (Norfolk and Western) adds delicate piano lines and Wurlitzer keyboard arpeggios, when not lending sensual, latin-flavored trumpet solos. Olin meanwhile has not lost his signature stream of consciousness writing style, delivering lines like “Death left a message on my phone, in a rather awkward tone / Rambled on and on and on, still not sure just what about / It got cut off the tape ran out.” More often he’s letting the melody speak for the chorus, his wafting hum speaking more than words could. Easy Not Easy turns out to be an apropos title for this song cycle which leans toward the easy-going, slow to mid tempo range, while keeping the listener challenged with a variety of styles and textures.
released October 14, 2006
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