Imagine you are a disembodied presence hovering above Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, in 1971. It’s a clear night and the air is warm. Music is floating up from a big house in Laurel Canyon and it draws you in. You drift into the house unseen and unheard. The house is full of people. They are relaxed and mellow. You sense they might live here together. Neil Young is stretched out on a couch. Joni Mitchell walks by holding a guitar. She smiles at him. A coffee table is home to wine, beer and record covers by the Doors, the Byrds and Otis Redding. Glenn Frey and Don Henley are talking in the hallway. They need a name for their new band… maybe the Eagles. You follow the music down into the basement. There is a band playing American music with heart and soul. This is their life, this is their time. You start to listen closely. They are The Grande.
The eponymously titled third album from Liverpool band, The Grande, is a direct descendent of West Coast American music of the late sixties and early seventies. This accomplished five piece band have produced an album that mirrors the harmony drenched, guitar music of this era in both sound and feel. However, throughout the thirteen songs it is apparent that this is not merely imitation. It is a shared kinship and love for the music that has a connecting thread stretching back through the decades.
Opening song Walls is really catchy and sets the scene for what’s to come. The horns are excellent and signpost a soul influence. More of this please. Harmonies are tight and uplifting. There is quality songwriting here. Old Coins is a sad song with an infectious melody. Steel guitar soars and the playing is relaxed and confident. The acapella portion is lovely.
The musicianship is skilled and never overstated. The piano on One Time Around is a good example of this. Close your eyes and sway gently to this poignant waltz. Penultimate song Diamond sees the return of the horns to great effect and album closer Golden Handcuffs gets a little heavier with some rock guitar. Lynyrd Skynyrd meets The Band to great effect.
The album cover is very enigmatic with band members impossible to identify in the cover image. I suspect this is to avoid awkward time travel questions if members of the Grande are spotted in archive photos from the seventies. Their music sounds so authentic they surely must have been there. If you wish you’d been there too, give The Grande a listen. You will like it. Trust me.
Denis Parkinson is a singer songwriter based in Liverpool. He performed at Liverpool Acoustic Festival 2016 and Threshold Festival 2016. He performed at the Liverpool Acoustic Kazimier Garden afternoon as part of LIMF 2015 and played at the Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, for We Shall Overcome 2015. He was a finalist in the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge 2014 and 2015. He plays regularly in and around Liverpool and has a longstanding enthusiasm for music of all kinds. In 2015 he released an album titled "Liverpool Skyline". In real life he works as a lecturer at University of Liverpool.