Stripped-down, raw and ghostly makes for uneasy listenin
Have you ever enjoyed wallowing in your own misery or bad mood? Ever felt cleansed by grief or found yourself embracing the sweet side of sorrow? Well, it seems that this is what James Apollo is getting at with his latest album, 'Good Grief' as he invites us into a world that is far from sunshine and roses...
But 'Good Grief' isn't the kind of album to listen to when you're in a bad mood; if you're looking for something to help vent your anger then you'd be far better find some extreme metal and cranking it up to eleven.'Good Grief' offers a much more desolate sound; beginning with 'Prelude, Colonel Travis' and 'The Alamo', Apollo introduces a bare, stripped down mixture of blues and Latin picking, harsh strummed guitar and crashing cymbals. While these opening tracks make for particularly raw, uncomfortable listening, 'Spring Storm' incorporates chugging, shuffling rhythms and slightly more up-tempo lyrics, but still clings to a dusty, dirty, rough sound.
However, 'Dead Men Weigh More' begins to feel more structured, though the lose, almost improvised sounding melody is still far from easy listening, it has a more gentle-sounding picked guitar and simple stripped down style, but it is 'Long Rope' and 'Mercenary Tango' that see the album really begin to develop. 'Long Rope's noir vocals are reminiscent of Jeff Klein, Ryan Adams and even perhaps Jeff Buckley with Apollo's climatically unrestrained, passionate wail, while the haunting organ echoes like a ghostly presence through the song. 'Mercenary Tango' builds with a pounding tango beat from the bass and big, raw vocals, while the piano continues to add a kooky, almost creepy sound to the track.
The bare sound of 'Loneliness' incorporates typically desolate subject matter, before 'Three Birds' kicks in as the albums catchiest, up-tempo track yet, with Apollo's voice taking on a dark and dirty blues edge. 'Slow Burn' continues this shift up a gear with quite shockingly upbeat Mediterranean rhythms punctuated by mystical, ghostly organ. The standout track comes right at the end of the album with 'All The Pretty'; fairly catchy with slide guitar and a gentle drum intro, this track is full of raw, rather unsettling vocals that accentuate the dark atmosphere that has been building throughout the album.
Overall, 'Good Grief' is not an album for those in search of an overtly melodic or relaxing sound, but it does become gradually more enjoyable as you follow Apollo through his desolate world. Every track here is authentically stripped down and you can almost taste the desert dust in your mouth. So go on, find yourself a bottle of whiskey and a darkened room somewhere and embrace some 'Good Grief'.