CD Review – Alec Gross “Sorry Sorry Sun EP”
Darkness is a funny thing. Often, one can find comfort within darkness, with it’s thin, bony fingers stretching and seeping into every corner, and offering a warm blanket to numb yourself from the pain of the outside world. What can be found on folk artist Alec Gross’s latest effort, The Sorry Sorry Sun EP, is the dark side of rustic Americana.
The EP is comprised of 5 tracks, recorded live on a 1973 reel-to-reel, quarter-inch tape machine, with fellow Handsome Lady Record accomplices, Will Knox on banjitar and Will Hensley on mandolin. Their reel-to-reel, which has no doubt seen an interesting and descriptive set of stories in its nearly 40-year career, is a helpful companion for The Sorry Sorry Sun EP, and adds a perfectly ghostly lo-fi hum to the recordings. The DIY recording has picked up Gross’s every breath, every pluck of the banjo, and each knock and clank of the guitar, creating an eerie additional soundtrack to the EP.
We begin with “Zero Sum,” a subtle combination of guitar and banjo, which soon builds to an impressive climax in it’s chorus and introduces us to the power that Gross can pack into a 4 minute track. We learn quickly that what is hidden in Gross’s impressive vocal tenor, is an ability to paint explicit imagery through his lyrics, despite the overall simplicity of the release.
Stand out track, “Talking To A Pretty Blonde Girl,” explodes with narrative over a riff that yearns with sadness, as we hear Gross remembering a somewhat fatal love. The track is thumped ominously on a banjo, while Gross sings, “Well I knew it when we was just children, I knew by the way your Sunday dress, it twirled, that someday I’d lose everyone I know, just by talking to a pretty blonde girl.” The pain in Gross’s voice is heartfelt and sincere, and breathes warmth onto the somber track.
In what can only be described as “Cinematic Americana,” the release is an organic insight into Gross, whose previous album, “Strip The Lanterns” glowed with elaborate horn sections and thick drum accompaniments. Instead, “The Sorry Sorry Sun EP” gathers its strength from the humbleness of plucked guitars, duelling banjos and the warmth of harmonicas, packing somber life stories into simplistic wooden porch tunes.
Purchase “The Sorry Sorry Sun EP” on The Handsome Lady Records bandcamp.