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CD Review: Griffin House, Lost & Found

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The spacious, airy song “Amsterdam,” which opens Griffin House’s CD Lost & Found, announces that we’re in serious, sensitive-guy territory.  But though the tune recalls Sting’s “Why Should I Cry For You”, House has an earthy, pop-Americana style that ought to stand him in good stead in a mileu where John Mayer and House’s labelmate Sara McLachlan earn loyal audiences.

At twenty-four House has a butter-melting if not quite fully baked voice that resembles Jakob Dylan’s, and he’s already a master of melody: “Ah Me” and “Tell Me a Lie,” both instant earworms, are probably already turning curly-haired lasses everywhere to mush.

The torchy “Waterfall” with its gorgeous falsetto strokes makes a nice change from the preceding, more folky beats; even when less melodically inventive, House sings straight from his heart to the listener’s; his musicality and emotionality stay in near-perfect balance.  But the second half of the CD is too weighted with slow, contemplative songs for my taste; taken together they’re a bit of a letdown after the opening tracks’ high energy.

“The Way I Was Made” is a bouncy exception, a winning if unremarkable ancestral-pride song: “It feels so good to have your blood in my veins.”  And in the lovely, quiet “Why Won’t You Believe,” House takes a risk, lamenting a parent’s rejection of a son’s religious conversion.  Then he further develops the theme in the intense “Just a Dream” wherein the singer tries to reconcile newfound faith with the resulting sense of separation from loved ones:

All you are now is only just a dream
Can you fall down in following me?
And I’ve been here with the pain
Since the very first day
I’ve been swearing in my rage
“Oh Holy Day!”
I sit around, your salvation waits

This reviewer, though a confirmed atheist, can’t help respecting a religious man who can not only admit to rage and confusion but can put it into sweet music that rings universal human bells.  When the gospelly seven-minute closer, “New Day,” explodes into a U2-like midtempo rave-up, it’s biology, not ever-questioning intellect, that will get feet tapping and faces smiling.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.