I know age shouldn’t really come into such things, I always see art, music… creativity of all sorts as being a level playing field and it is all about the end result not the back story so beloved of TV shows and marketing companies. But I will say this. Damn! Grayson Word is seventeen years old and he has delivered a stone cold soul classic. Or more accurately the hottest one I have heard for a long time. It runs on a blue-eye groove, of course it does, but it is miles removed from the modern pop-R&B that commercial artists seem to be infusing their music with of late. This is no Sam Smith or Conor Maynard re-appropriation of classic sounds for commercial gain, Grayson Word feels like the real deal.
As someone who hasn’t travelled as much of the world as I would like, who explores a lot of the world through it’s music and everything that it evokes, Grayson Word sounds like nothing less than America’s beating heart. And to be fair it is probably an America that never existed outside its road movies, TV adverts, beat legacy, films literature and other rose tinted nostalgia, but in my mind it is what America should sound like. Away from the celebrity spotlight of what we laughingly call the music industry, disposable pop with it’s bland shopping mall beat and faceless landfill indie – all complicated hair and scenester regulations, he offers us something real, something authentic, something that you won’t look at in ten years time and just muse “what was I thinking!”
When he funks it out he does so with the same eloquence as the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Forget How To Fly exhibiting the same genre-hopping brilliance as it drives funktastic bass lines, rock guitar lines and evocative Hammond swells through soulful territory. Striking Matches chimes with vintage soul-pop and the title track pops and pulses with the same inherent cool that Stevie Wonder energised his songs with.
It is the sound of basement soul gatherings blending into back street Chicago jazz clubs which in turn become the sound of illicit blues parties and underground gigs. It is the sound of an alternative, underground path that music took when it should have become the mainstream. It is the sound of a midnight ritual designed to re-animate the zombie corpse of the muse of music that mattered, still matters and will continue to matter, long after the current boy band wannabes have returned to a day job where the main concern is asking the customer if they want fries with that!
Sadly the modern pop picker probably only has access to the glorious past that this album references via modern cash-ins such as James Blake’s distorted musical musings or the pub landlady of pop, Adele, and her false retro posturing. Even if this wasn’t the case, Grayson Word would still be important to the cause, but the current bandwagoning makes his brand of modern-retro classic essential as a torch to be kept burning. Word!
Check the album out on Spotify