By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor
Album Review: “Saving Grace” by One Road Records
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Award winning husband and wife duo, Aaron and Grace Bond of When Rivers Meet launch their eagerly-awaited sophomore 12 track studio album “Saving Grace” this week. This album follows the debut album “We Fly Free” from late last year and the band’s two earlier EPs, “The Uprising” and “Innocence of Youth.”
Grace does lead vocals and plays mandolin and violin and Aaron Bond is on guitar and vocals. When Rivers Meet set records earlier this year by being the first ever artist or band to win four awards at the UK Blues Awards including “Blues Band of the Year,” “Blues Album of the Year,” “Emerging Blues Artist of the Year” and “Most Inspirational Online Performance of the Year.” The band was also voted “Best New Band” by the listeners of Planet Rock at the radio station’s “The Rocks” Awards.
“We were very conscious that our debut album “We Fly Free” was a step up in production from our two EP releases previously “The Uprising” EP and “Innocence of Youth,”” says Grace. “We also wanted to keep a live, authentic vibe to the new album to retain the energetic feel in the music.”
Says Aaron, “We wanted the album to have more of an upbeat rock feel. We knew exactly what we
wanted before we set off to record “Saving Grace.” We set our expectations high. We’re so pleased with the result and just hope everyone else loves it as much as we do!”
“Although we wanted to do something different from our previous work, we still wanted all the same elements that make our music distinctive and recognizable as When Rivers Meet,” says Grace.
So far all of the band’s albums have been recorded at the Boathouse in Suffolk with producer and engineer, Adam Bowers. “He just gets everything we do and want,” says Grace. “As Adam says, ‘Bring me a drawing, and I will colour it in’, which is a great analogy of how we work together.” The new album is mastered by Mike Curtis. Says Aaron, “the mastering is always the most exciting part of the process. We always look forward to receiving the mastered tracks from Mike.” The add in of instruments like the Hammond B3 for example, adds even deeper layers to the band’s new tunes.
As with all their previous recordings, Grace, Aaron, and producer Adam have massive input with instrumentation. “It’s a case of going into the studio with a song,” reflects Grace. “Aaron will play it on guitar, I’ll lay down the vocals, whilst Adam adds the drums. We start to get a feel as to what the song is and what it means,it then grows from there into the direction we think it should go.” Grace elaborated some more, “Sometimes it can take a while before we get the right feel for example the drums or the tone of the song. But we always have a clear plan for each song going into the studio and a good idea on the feel that we want to create. Our ethos is that we keep it sounding authentic, whether that be vocals, instrumentation, or any effects. It’s always got to sound organic and real.”
So how does this recording differ from the band’s debut album “We Fly Free?” “Saving Grace” has a more upbeat rock feeling than “We Fly Free,” says Aaron. “We were very conscious when we started to record this album that’s the direction that we wanted to move in, and it was exactly the kind of result that wanted to achieve…as well as being inspired by classic blues including John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, we also draw a lot of influence from classic rock bands that include Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Cream and Free. To emulate some of the feel or tone of these legendary blues pioneers and seminal rock bands is something that we strive to do, and hopefully people will hear that in our music and relate to it.”
Some of the standout songs included: “He’ll Drive You Crazy” had the distinctive sound of the cigar box guitar. Loved the slower tempo song “Don’t Tell Me Goodbye” with the harmonizing vocals and Aaron sings a bit on this one too. “Eye of a Hurricane (Friend of Mine #2) was a continued song from “We Fly Free” establishing that subtle connection between the two albums. With lead vocals by Aaron, I really liked this one, a nice swampy blues riff that bordered on some old classic Southern Rock, complete with angelic, theremin-sounding back up vocals by Grace. “Testify” is a rocker with a touch of keys in the background and Grace showing off her wild vocals and violin riffs. Love the accompanying video! The acoustic “Talking In My Sleep” was a personal favorite, just the most beautiful harmonizing here. Rock at Night has covered this band before; they are one of our favorites, and you can check out our last story HERE. Check out their upcoming tour and ticket info HERE. Don’t miss this band live!
About “Saving Grace,” Rock at Night says: “This is a straight up, kick ass rock and blues album with depth and scope of the old classic rock of the early 70’s. What makes this music so super-charged is the artistry of these musicians and Grace’s vocals, lush and perfect for Blues-Rock. With the adding in of the keys and a focus on the rocking bass and drums, they add new musical layers to their songs without compromising their distinctive sound. Wow, just WOW!”
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