The rock n’ roll lifestyle seems like the most amazing of dreams to those of us not a part of it: Different cities, new people each night, possibilities of amazing creativity, and doing what you love for your fans. Sure, there’s the tour bus, cramped quarters, gas station food, and whatnot, but, for some, that’s close enough to current events to make it not seem scary.
The truth of the matter is that the touring life can be a lonely and isolated thing. A lot of major artists have given up on being away from families and stability, and have called it quits. As a smaller to mid-level star, it can be even worse. For Seattle-based, new Rhymesayers acquisition Grieves, there was too much at home to just leave behind. After touring for his album, 88 Keys & Counting, he came back to a ruined relationship and some addiction problems. Instead of just wallowing and feeling sorry for himself, he jumped into writing, and on the other side came the explosive new album, Together/Apart.
Together/Apart is, at times, both hard-nosed and smooth. Grieves’ lyrics are mature and unflinching, and his producer/close friend Budo creates beautiful soundscapes for the words to float and then blast around. Budo uses just enough instrumentation to support Grieves’ flow without overwhelming it. His minimalistic approach is a definite highlight on the album. Opening track “Light Speed” stands as an incredibly strong introduction for his Rhymesayers debut. The hushed verses about childhood and growing up are beautifully set against Budo’s composition of piano, strings, and drums.
As the album goes on, Grieves opens up about his broken relationship, and the toll touring took. Both “Falling From You” and “Pressure Cracks” are great examples of how he rebuilds his narrative. The latter starts with the gloomy line “I feel like I’ve been breathing out of an exhaust pipe on the job site/with a fist full of brittle sand.” The songs aren’t self-indulgent in their woe, but instead are the words of a strong young man pulling himself out of the darkness. They become lyrically lush anthems for picking up the pieces, and being a better person for it.
Together/Apart is a great Rhymesayers debut that shows a fresh artist at the start of a solid career. He and Budo’s work together are a perfect match throughout the album. The lines are well crafted, and poignant, and the music is thoughtfully composed to match. Grieves is the perfect addition to the Rhymesayers stable, and now that he’s rebuilt, he’s ready to start climbing.