EP Review

We’ve all overcome obstacles big or small, in one way or another.  The human spirit can be both fragile and triumphant in the face of all that comes our way and we somehow find a way to fight through it whether alone or with others.  These kinds of stories are read about in history books, newspapers, retold in our favorite movies and are sometimes captured in music - and singer-songwriter Kerr Griffin’s Rust+Bone EP has done just that.  

Either on purpose or by happenstance, Kerr tells a story that builds on itself from one song to the next resolving the struggle of moving on and getting over by the time you reach the last strum of “Paper Dolls”.  When people describe music as “simple and honest” the instrumentation plays a large part in conveying that message or feeling.  Throughout Rust+Bone, the single voice of Kerr is backed up with the pulse of his acoustic guitar and a few shimmers and shines of electric guitar, organ, snare, and harmonica.  The lead track lending its title to the EP, “Rust+Bone” introduces the theme of overcoming obstacles as the narrator is drowning out at sea, finds their way to shore, shakes off the salt and sand, and thrives.  The chorus conveys a realization from the narrator that even though he thought his love would thrive “like rubies in the dust” the lover’s heart was cold, and the love become old like “rust and bone”.  The followup track “Nothing to Prove” introduces the drums to the collection of songs and is about putting it all on the line - even though a relationship may have ended or a friend doesn’t realize what kind of love they have standing in front of them, always leaving your door open and saying this is what I am *queue Take Me Baby Or Leave Me* but slower, and with less sass.  

“Regards to Mary” begins with the kick and snare welcoming you to the room while a beautiful harmonica cuts through the mix to pull and push the listener through the hook.  Time has passed as the narrator recalls experiences with Mary and describes that he couldn’t “ever solve the riddle of you”.  The organ creeps through the mix in the final chorus to give the song just a little more depth.

“17” is probably my favorite track on the EP because of the simplicity and structure of it.  As the guitar switches chords left to right, the vocal seems to follow in a very Dylan (Bob or Jakob)-esque manner and flows well throughout.  The content of the lyrics are also powerful as I’m sure we recall being bullied as kids and you can just feel “the eyes on the back of your neck” or your insecurities “howling at your door”.  Though the instrumentation is simple, the song and message are powerful.

“Broken Horses” is a near-sequel to “17” with “we are all of us liars, we are the gods we seek, we are the captains of this vessel and we have lost all sympathy”.  The tune is reminiscent of how times have changed over the past 10-20 years.  These days it seems like we’ve all lost a bit of humanity - everyone with their noses in their phones praising and condemning each other online and in person - we are the good and the evil and everyone’s grass seems to be greener than our own.  As Kerr puts it, “It’s a long road back from where we used to be”.

As we reach the end of Rust+Bone, “Paper Dolls” cuts through with a funky blues acoustic guitar riff.  Kerr carries the weight of the song with his vocals as he palm mutes and accents the end of each verse with a bend of the strings.  The chorus swells as the narrator seems to pack up their things and move to Boston, leaving everything behind - the good and the bad, but overcoming his past obstacles in a new place, bringing a strong, upbeat ending to the EP.

Overall, Rust+Bone is a solid solo release from singer-songwriter Kerr Griffin.  I would be interested to see if he revisits any of these songs again with a full band either live or for another studio cut on the next release.

Rust+Bone can be found:

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rust-bone-ep/1276643466 

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/2gFue3og8Tg6lPH7bA3xVU 

BandCamp https://kerrgriffin.bandcamp.com/

Kerr’s website: http://kerrgriffin.com/

 

Cam Cotham / Nov 10 2017

Front & Turner 

www.frontandturner.com 

 

New England Indie