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Music Review - `Still Life – The Legacy Collection` by Dave Greaves (jh)

Dave Greaves  -  Still Life – The Legacy Collection (click on image to watch video)

1 April 2020 

 

Dave Greaves’ double CD Still Life -The Legacy Collection is one of those magic treasures that just suddenly appeared through the auspices of acclaimed Austin singer-songwriter Bob Cheevers. Greaves is originally from Hull, England and now resides in Scarborough, England on the banks of the North Sea. Greaves played electric guitar on Cheevers’ tours of the UK so Cheevers reciprocates by assembling this collection of 24 tunes across the two discs, feeling he had a critical mission to fulfill. Sadly, Greaves’ days are now numbered due to an incurable neurological disorder and there’s a hope that this terrific music will outlive him. 

When singer-songwriter, on the cover cradling an acoustic guitar, releases such a torrent of work at one time, some trepidation sets in, thinking that at some time it will all begin to sound the same. Fortunately, that’s not the case here as varied instrumentation, melodies and incisive storytelling keeps one engaged. It’s also evident that Greaves is a veteran craftsman. It comes as no revelation then to learn that during the height of the English folk and rock music in the ‘70s Greaves toured with the biggest names in those genres including Sandy Denny and John Martyn. He was also one of the few artists that shared billing with Nick Drake during his time. He also had deals throughout his career with Island Music, EMI Music, and several other high-profile labels.

These two dozen songs, proving once again that the best music is timeless, are poignantly expressive, each relating to some aspect of Greaves’ life and musical career. His by turns gently tender and roughly hewn voice, “gin-soaked,” as he calls it, bears some resemblance sans accent to legendary Texas singer-songwriters like recently passed Eric Taylor, Butch Hancock, and in just a few places, the legendary Guy Clark. It’s no wonder that Cheevers felt a special connection.

If you are to search for a Greaves video, you’ll find the title track, elongated to “Still Life With Piano,” on of several examples where he’s accompanied by more than simply an acoustic guitar, albeit vocal harmonies imbue many songs. Brian Gotie plays bass on most tunes while Paul Peterson adds percussion and vocal harmonies with “Fool’s Gold” and “Killing Time (From the Neck Up)” being prime examples. Like many tunes, their subtle melodies will grow on you. Several harmony voices and Julie Wray’s tenor sax buoy “Rising Tide” and the bowed bass underpins the tale of “Frank.” “Danny Had a Girl” is somewhat of a throwback to those halcyon days of English folk with a veritable choir on the chorus. Likewise, “The Desperate Hours” has the vintage folk feel, ideal for this story song.  Just calling out a few tunes doesn’t do the project justice as the album is consistently strong.

Nonetheless, we’ll highlight some from Disc 2 which begins with another, seemingly autobiographical story song, “Me and Lucky,” which has plenty of strings and a smattering of keys supporting Greaves. The positively blissful brief “I Love Ya Babe” features another nice tenor sax solo and sparkling piano which adds to his emotive statement. “The Longing for You” exemplifies Greaves’ ability to deft match melody with a convincing expression as well his knack for bringing in harmony voices at just the right moments. “Page 75” reveals some nice guitar work before it morphs into an atmospheric vibe that continues and then subsides as two voices beautifully carry “Unguarded Moment.” Even when navigated the polar emotions of “In And Out Of Love With You,” Greaves’ lasting effect is like a reassuring hug, a gentle acknowledgment that all is okay.

So, let this serve as one grand introduction to the music of Dave Greaves for many.  Go ahead and research his back catalog where these await you:

“The Bright Side of Melancholy” (solo)

“Up Through My Window and Into My Feet” (Dave Greaves Band)

“Me and Lucky” (recorded in France with Paul Peterson)

“A Piece of this Life” (with Richard Adams)

“Younger by the Hour” (solo)

Dave was also part of experimental outfit NGO-X which recorded 6 albums that are still available.

In the meantime, enjoy what’s here. It’s an unexpected treat.

 

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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