“Gather round and hold hands
With the ones thaa chew luv.”
My high school chorus teacher was a stickler for diction and when I heard the apparently improvised “choir” repeating those lines in track seven, “Gather Round”, it made me cringe. If those lines weren’t the refrain, it wouldn’t be so noticeable, but they’re repeated again and again and again. This composition by Graham Czach is noted as a tribute to John Lennon and includes lyrics the press release says could “open up the world’s social consciousness.” I’m all in favor of that, especially in an election year. I’m afraid that “holding hands with the ones that you love” might not be sufficient action to deal with global warming.
Lucid is Graham Czach’s solo debut CD and is a bold, wide-reaching project, especially for a self-produced album. The Chicago-based singer-songwriter (who also plays several instruments) sets out to pay homage to his influences such as Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, CSN&Y, Pink Floyd, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. At the same time, he seeks to call attention to social issues like the green movement, abortion, harmful addictions, and spiritual discovery.
Back during the sixties, Tom Smothers gave some advice to George Carlin (both of whom spent a good deal of time in the “Windy City”), “The art’s gotta be out there before you can put the content in. If you’re singing protest songs, you better be a fuckin’ good singer.”
Czach’s voice is a high tenor — very high. One of my concerns for such a high-pitched voice is that often as the singer moves up into the upper registers — and approaches the limits of his range — the depth and strength of the voice often diminishes. The loss of strength weakens the character. In this case, the occasional lapse in strength is compensated for by the compassion for his material. After all, he wrote the lyrics.
His best lyrics are in the ballads and love songs, a quintessentially popular subject for all genres. “Keep You” (my favorite track on the CD), “Windows”, and “True Love” show the writer’s experience with hope, desire, longing, and confidence in a relationship.
“Panes of glass keep you from me
As I look inside for what I need.
Free your mind and turn the key
Unlock the future to let it be.”
The music shows he’s listened well to his influences and included sufficient references to them all — including Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal. Several songs include a lush feeling provided by strings and the overall production quality is right up there. It’s a bit early to say that Czach has met the standard described by Tom Smothers, but for his solo debut album, he’s definitely off to a good start!