Grant Olney

Brokedown Gospel

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Austin-based singer/songwriter Grant Olney wears an interesting amalgam of influences on his sleeve on his full-length album debut. There's something Van Morrison-ish about his impressionistic, almost mystical, sometimes frankly weird songs; there's something Jay Clifford-ish about his sometimes tortured vowels; and there's more than a hint of the Smiths and the Cure in the general mopeyness of his melodies and lyrical outlook. But while these elements do tend to come across as affectations -- and slightly annoying ones at that -- there's something undeniably engaging about these songs. The title track's sludgy beat, twangy-shimmery guitars, and lugubrious trumpet are the perfect complement to Olney's lazy, gentle delivery; "Where Is Love" is subtly hooky, and sounds a bit like a cross between the Beatles and Half Japanese; by Olney's standards, the mid-tempo "Good Morning Lolly" is practically a rave-up, and its sweet romantic sentiments are no less charming for being just the slightest bit goofy. "Sweet Wine" is maybe just a bit overwrought, but most of the other songs keep things together more effectively. Overall, this is a surprising little gem of an album.

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