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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Gravel Project - The Gravel Project

The Gravel Project – The Gravel Project
2014, The Gravel Project

Andrew Gravel spent a lot of time figuring out what he already knew deep in his heart: music had to be a major part of his life.  A top-notch blues rock guitarist, Gravel has gigged with bands in the Amherst/Northampton and Boston scenes.  He has also toured and gigged his way through clubs in London and Australia.  Already a guitarist with Martha’s Vineyard favorites Entrain, Gravel branched out into his own band in 2010.  The Gravel Project featured Gravel’s vocals and powerhouse guitar work, and a highly original blend of blues, rock, soul and R&B.  2014 marks the release of The Gravel Project’s first full-length studio album, The Gravel Project.

The Gravel Project opens with an unrepentant mix of disco, funk and rock and roll on "When I Get Back Home". It's all here, with panache to spare, and you'd damn well better have your dancing shoes on. Guitar riffs galore dot "Blues For L.A.", a musical tour de force that's relentless and irresistible. The Gravel Project pulls back a bit for the contemplative and languorous "Jam Today", a carpe diem tune for the laid back crowd.  "Lost" and "Dollar Bill" seem to fall into a comfortable jam mode, although the latter lets loose some Stax style horn work that's worth the price of admission on its own.

"In The Moonlight" has a distinctive country feel, but doesn't cede the jam sensibilities you've come to expect from The Gravel Project. The song is a bit too complex to cross over to country radio, but it is a congenial enough sound to catch on with country fans. "Close To Me" finds the band moving back toward a 1970's blend of rock and soul. This one has a gentle groove that will sweep you up and carry you along.  "Not The One" may be destined to be the breakout track on the album. The song is a bit too long for commercial radio, clocking in at 4:59, but has a killer hook, brilliant Popicana sensibilities and a memorable chorus.   Give this song the right radio edit and you'll be hearing it everywhere this summer.

The Gravel Project begins to wind down with the groovy, slow jam vibe of "Soul Now". This easy vibe carries over into the gentle island sway of "Your Song". But just when you think you're headed for a soft landing, The Gravel Project launches into a vibrant cover of "New Speedway Boogie" (The Grateful Dead). The band's pop sensibilities shine through here, and are driven to new heights with wicked guitar work that smacks of George Thorogood in his prime.

Andrew Gravel is a force to be reckoned with, and he has two extremely talented wingmen in Brad Barrett (bass/slide guitar) and Dave Fox (drums).  The Gravel Project is an eye opening, ear-pleasing experience.  It’s true that the trio gets a little too bogged down in the free-form jam configurations, but their pop sense and exquisite musical timing make it all work.  This is a working band with the potential to build a rabid following.  Add in an occasional dose of musical economy and they’ll be pumping out chart toppers for years.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

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