Artist Spotlight

Review: Gramercy Arms, “The Seasons of Love”

No Comments 3 August 2014

Review: Gramercy Arms, “The Seasons of Love”

“The sophisticated songwriting and slightly melancholic vibe add so much character to songs that shine well beyond the carefully chosen cast of characters bringing them to life on The Seasons of Love.”

Artist: Gramercy Arms

Album: The Seasons of Love

Genre: Pop

RIYL: Lloyd Cole, Elvis Costello, Wilco, The Jayhawks

Gramercy Arms The Seasons of Love

Follow along with me here: Gramercy Arms is a revolving NYC-based collective of musicians and artists masterminded by songwriter/producer Dave Derby (vocals, guitar, keys). The backing band is comprised of Rainy Orteca (bass, vocals), Kevin March (drums) and Sean Eden (guitar). Beyond this exceptionally talented core there are also the contributions of an impressively well-rounded rotation including Lloyd Cole and Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman), Tanya Donelly (Belly, Throwing Muses), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Kendall Meade (Sparklehorse), Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields), Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices), Erin Moran (A Girl Called Eddy), Renee LoBue (Elk City), Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo) and others. This is the full talent roster contributing to Gramercy Arms’ second full-length album, The Seasons of Love.

It’d be easy to just call it a day, and assume that there will be moments of pop brilliance sprinkled throughout a mix of mature songwriting and production. You’d be correct in your assumption, were you to listen to this perfectly polished surface. But scratching just a little bit underneath that, therein lies the beauty of The Seasons of Love. What’s immediately evident is that Derby’s centering influence gives these songs a consistency that allows them to flow easily from one to the other. With a big cast of talented characters taking lead and backing vocal duties, that consistency can be a mighty challenge.

Highlights of this thoroughly enjoyable record include opener “Always in Love,” the glorious “Winterlight,” and a personal favorite, “Novemberlong.” The latter, in particular, crackles with energy and nostalgia in a truly winning way. It also features a fantastic vocal features by Erin Moran that pushes it over the top. Another standout is the piano-centric “The Night is Your Only Friend,” a tune that would feel right at home alongside Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello. “Yours Untruly” adds another lush display of vocal layering that just seems to lazily wash out of the speakers. The masterful “Thin” closes the record perfectly.

The sophisticated songwriting and slightly melancholic vibe add so much character to songs that shine well beyond the carefully chosen cast of characters bringing them to life on The Seasons of Love. The result is a collection of tunes that evoke an artistic vibe reminiscent of the 70’s pop music movement. The sense of nostalgia is strong with this group, and that soulful, emotional (but ultimately catchy) style of pop seems to have gone missing in recent years. Gramercy Arms have an intensely strong grasp on what makes a great record and listening experience, this is one for the musicians out there.


Gramercy Arms on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gramercy.arms

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