Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You...

Wakey Wakey

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Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You... Review

by Andrew Leahey

The influences on Wakey!Wakey!’s first album are widespread, encompassing everything from U2 (whose ringing guitars are evoked by the lead-off track, “Almost Everything”) to Maroon 5 (the likely source of the pop-funk anchoring “The Oh Song”) to the band's true bread and butter: classic singer/songwriter pop. It’s a broad range of genres, held together by the album's quirky arrangements -- a tuba here, a female choir there -- and Michael Grubbs’ affable vocals. He’s a musical theater veteran, one who traveled with touring productions of Camelot and Brigadoon before shifting his focus to pop music, and his baritone sounds pleasant and surprisingly understated on record. Grubbs’ biggest strength, though, is the foresight to surround himself with talented musicians, and the few songs that truly miss the mark here are those that feature little more than his own vocals and piano. When he’s enlisting help from a rotating cast of players -- everyone from Richmond-bred singer/songwriter Emily Easterly to Lowry’s Heidi Sidelinker -- Grubbs comes one step closer to turning Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said into the underground equivalent of Parachute’s Losing Sleep or the Fray’s How to Save a Life. He doesn't quite get there, perhaps, but the attempt still has some tuneful moments.

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