Grand Drive

True Love and High Adventure

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True Love and High Adventure -- originally released in September 2000 by the London-based Americana label Loose before being reissued by RCA Victor in April 2001 -- is Grand Drive's second album; their first, Road Music, had been compiled from three previously released EPs and two singles. Brothers Danny Wilson (lead guitar and vocals) and keyboard player Julian Wilson's sweetly melancholy songs are full to the brim with sunny Beach Boys-style backing harmonies, sweeping gospel-soaked piano and Hammond organ, and acoustic and electric guitars swirling in a dreamy blend of styles. The languid, melancholy leadoff track, "Wheels," is probably Grand Drive's finest moment here, a rolling song (somewhat appropriately) that recalls Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" (recorded by Nilsson for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack). "Sleepy" introduces the album's first brass arrangement, further highlighted by bassist Balch's soaring falsetto backing vocals. "The Guy Who Could Carry On" manages to recall '50s-style pop and warm Jordanaires-style harmonies. This London quartet's fine orchestral country-rock album is so grandiose in scope and soulfully rich that it's no wonder production-conscious bands like Mercury Rev, Grandaddy, the High Llamas, and the Flaming Lips come to mind; all of these groups have released sonic masterpieces in their careers, and Grand Drive's True Love is right up there with them, even if the music contained therein more accurately resembles Teenage Fanclub, the Jayhawks, and other alternative country-pop groups who have expanded their sound with brass and string arrangements.

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