Brooklyn rockers Grandpa Jack breeze in with Staggered Steps, the new acoustic folk-rock EP dropping October 11th via Lost Moon Records. Is this acoustic work an abandonment of the band’s more beastly rock nature? Nah. This is just another incarnation of Matt C. White’s work; the intensity is very much there.
Matt C. White (Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Percussion, Didgeridoo) leads the three-part harmonies with Johnny Strom (Guitar, Vocals) and Jared Schapker (Bass, Vocals) in this lush mayhem of orchestrated folk-rock restraint. The vocals drive this EP: this band is really three men who are equals vocally and a triple threat musically. Recorded and mixed by Matt C. White, with the record mastered by Matt Labozza, this is stunning art. Great acoustic records achieve sonic separation, each note resonating with clarity, and this album achieves it.
From the opening notes of “Limbs” (with the soft sounds of fall fleshing out the tune) to the ominous progression of “Creatures,” this is special. White’s vocal delivery is unmistakable and transformative in its soulful connection to the music. His authentic roar is complemented by Shapker’s steady bass drive in this reincarnation of “Creatures,” a favorite of Grandpa Jack’ catalog. The included didgeridoo is a wild creature, and White plays serpent sounds too. This is a wild release.
“Staggered Steps” sets the stage for the strange times in which we live. This dark yet lighthearted gloom featuring violin by Adriana Molello seems the perfect close to this trio of tracks. Simple fingerpicking drives the music, and any tension is provided through vocal phrasing and intonation. Angst-laden vocals rotate among the trio of subdued rockers, somehow coming together in a unified, stark horror. Though there are only three songs on the Staggered Steps EP, it’s enough to make Grandpa Jack fans. —Lisa Whealy