As a newcomer to the Seattle music scene, I was eagerly anticipating my inevitable introduction to the many talented local artists that the Pacific Northwest is producing. I got just such an opportunity when Stephen asked me to review the album and CD release of Grant Valdes and his newest album of indie-folk, At Peace At Last. Valdes was previously the primary songwriter in The Empty Mirror.
Grant’s talent as both a musician and a songwriter was obvious from the start of the show as he began with “What the Hell Do I Know” and “When We are Dead” off his new album. Grant led his trio with guitar and keyboard melodies that were well conceived. He conducted the violinist and dreadlocked cellist, who accompanied him in a clear and connected way. The simple combination of strings and piano matched Grant’s singular, full-toned voice and created a haunting, poignant sound that lingered in my head as I hummed between tunes.
Grant also showed an impressive ability to invent lyrics that dramatically communicate his exploration of the purpose of life, death, and love in a creative and unique way. Let’s face it, that’s often hard to find. He explores the never-ending question of politics on “Fear the A-Bomb” and “Plutocracy,” and his conclusions seem to be familiar and attractive to his audiences. The songs brought a strong response and energy from the crowd who made it to the release show.
Grant’s vocals are especially effective because of his ability to move between his breathy falsetto and his stronger voicing in a way that communicates unbiased emotion in each and every tune. This is especially true on “A Lesson for Kurt,” “I Know,” and “The Gift of a Poor Memory.” His strongest vocals appear on “Antithing” and “Fear the A-Bomb.”
All around, Grant is a talented musician and songwriter whose tunes are bound to get stuck in your head – and you will like it. His compositions for piano and guitar are creative, but his experimentation in composing for violin and cello really makes the album a step above the rest in this category. His insightful lyrics are hauntingly perceptive to the human condition. For some indie-folk that will catch your attention and satisfy your desire for both melodic and lyrical potency, be sure to look for more on Grant Valdes and At Peace At Last.