By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor
Well, just love this! This is music to heal by, coming in deep from a much–needed catharsis and just like all the old, country music cliches, born from a downturn in the songwriter’s life. But from the lyrics in the songs, hope is on the way.
His father was a Danish immigrant that settled on the east coast of Florida near Jupiter. Kristian eventually moved up north to the Boston area with his mother while still a teen and was “discovered” in church by a teacher who recognized his talent. He later established himself as a musician with a local band, Bone Dry System. All the while he was working in construction and carpentry, raising a family, trying to make his first marriage work and doing music and gigs on the side. After a brief stint in jail, his second wife was the one who encouraged him to make his music the number one priority in his life.
The Gravel Church is country rock, alt–country, rock, folk, pop and roots music, all rolled into one album. In some sections, I am reminded of late 60’s and early 70’s and the folk bands I was singing in back then and even the early country rock of bands like Poco or The Eagles and solo artists like Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakum. The lyrics are deep, the music is superb and the feels are raw and very real!
A CD party was planned and a tour to support this album but with the Covid lockdown, the plans quickly changed. There are sixteen cuts on The Gravel Church so this is really a double album and as each track plays, the listener wants to hear more! This writer couldn’t pick a favorite song–loved them all! Connect on the socials linked below and you can purchase the album at the Bandcamp site.
Boston–a fast tempo, country rock song about gigging in Boston, relationships, being part of the local music scene. A happy song, great to open the album with and intricate guitar work.
Foolish Devil–classic, slower tempo, country/rock song, moody guitar, relationship love and angst, background vocals are lush and timed perfectly. Lyrics for someone that is very loved by the songwriter.
5 Horses–Song opens and closes with folk guitar layered over First Nation/Native chants, a shout out to the environment and the culture of the people who lived in these lands first, bittersweet lyrics in a comparison to living then and our world now.
Couch Sleeper–Hard driving Country/Rock ode to the traveling and touring musician and the cold relationships that go along with that. Great guitar! This song reminds me a lot of Steve Earle’s style.
Razor Wire Heart–Country/Folk song, super sensitive lyrics about relationships, love while incarcerated. It is easy to figure out that Kristian wrote this while he was behind bars and he bared his soul completely to the one he loves. Poignant.
Polly Amorous–this song opens with stomping and clapping, a sound sample from Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” then a simple drum beat and guitar, lilting keyboards, lyrics about a man who loves a woman who is too free and easy. (“Addicted to her touch…”)
Hjertebygger (Heart Builder)–opens with poetry being recited in a man’s voice “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye, this song is a shout out to Kristian’s Danish heritage and perhaps his ancestors, light accordion with guitar and a haunting melody. This song sounds very European and even Roma. Vocals and guitar are beautiful.
A Life Like This–whistling and a lilting, easy rhythm open the song, this is a duo for the most part, vocals are laid down with a female voice added in the chorus, a dreamy wondering of what could be (a Beatles line added in: “Look at all the lonely people…”)
Take You Home–even tempo song, Country/Rock style, great lyrics with background vocals, wondering how far to go in a new relationship. Loved the guitar break in this song! Nice hooks to sing along to.
You’re New–starts out very jazzy, beautiful drums and smooth guitar and vocals. Old break ups and new relationships, establishing boundaries and moving on. Great bridge in this song. “I might let you think you’re right, because you’re new!”
Girls That Fall Apart–this is more of a country song with the sound of a dobro or a slide and a the lyrics speak of a relationship that probably should have never happened. But it seems like the protagonist is in the habit of picking the bad relationships!
She’s No Cadillac–sexual innuendo reigns in the lyrics of this song, the girl is telling the protagonist no. Parts of a car and car maintenance are compared to this woman–she is not held in high esteem! This is more of a Country/Rock song.
That Bird Won’t Fly–a beautiful song with acoustic guitar, more Folk/Rock with a slight jazz sound. Nice drum beat here. Guitar, keys, drums and background vocals are a dedication to this woman who is much loved.
Look at My Child–song opens with the voice of a broadcaster speaking about Viet Nam. The banjo is the lead instrument with lead guitar, drums–more folk genre. The lyrics to this song is staunchly anti-war. In parts of the background, you can hear helicopters.
The Tracks–Another Folk/Rock song and this one is a moody and driving the point home about drug addiction and the spiritual state of humanity. A vocal cut of a pastor speaking in the background.
Auld Lange Syne–a tribute to Kristian’s Celtic heritage, this is an old tune beautifully redone! Kristian sang in a lower register in this one and made this song his own. Acoustic guitar and pipes and percussion in the background. Loved this cover!
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