CD review: GRACE
By Rachel Jagt
This is the perfect record to listen to really loud with a really good pair of headphones. The sounds range from loud and boisterous to quiet and melancholy; but on every track, Tetford's trembling voice and get-lost-in-the-rhythm guitar playing sweep you away. I suppose this is a blues record, but it also has very strong gospel influences, as well as a healthy dose of radio-friendly pop rock. This St. John's, Newfoundland native sure can write a love song; in 'It's Been So Long' and 'Tears', songs about the end and the aftermath of broken relationships, the ache is in every note. Tracks like 'City on the Water', a smiling nod to his hometown, and 'Sweet Sister Mercy', a beggin' song, prove that he does fun just as well.
Tetford wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 10 tracks on the record, the only exception being a mind-stopping cover of the 1930s tune 'Georgia', infused with so much soul that it comes back to life under his skillful touch. And if that just isn't enough for you, Tetford also produced and engineered the recording himself. To be honest, there isn't one track on the record that I don't like. Each, whether fast or slow, was obviously written and arranged, and the vocal tracks laid down, with precision. Highlights: 'Blind', the opening track, is a tongue in cheek portrait of a man who is completely missing the point. For those of us who can pick it up, the biblical imagery in this song really brings the point home. Unfortunately, for those who don't get the imagery, the song probably won't make much sense. Thank goodness for the rockin' bass beat!
On the Other Side', which I can't help but think is a song about heaven, is a jumpy rock number that showcases Santiago Serna on the drums, dueling with Tetford's guitar. It's a fun song with an uplifting 'we can do anything' message. Easily the most moody and tortured track on the record, 'Grace' is also a beautifully arranged piano piece, which exposes Tetford's sensitive side: "As I see her world crumble through the tears in her eyes, I can hear her heart shatter as she whispers goodbye." If you're a sucker for a great sad song, which I am, this ballad will hit home. Tetford tinkles the ivories on this one, and you can hear the pain shudder in his voice. Also notable is the vocal talent of Maureen Ennis of The Ennis Sisters, lilting in the background.
'Sweet Sister Mercy' picks up the tempo set at the beginning of the record, with a scorching guitar rhythm. You can almost picture a grinning man on his knees praying for his soul, a gleam in his eye. The final track, a guitar/cello-based ballad about leaving the one he loves, is achingly beautiful; it makes me want to be that girl...
With a live show every bit as engaging as his studio work, Cory Tetford is poised for success. His new band Tetford Lamb (which he formed with longtime friend Paul Lamb and drummer Serna), will be releasing its first record in the spring of 2001. Watch for it - with the amount of talent being poured into it, it'll be huge.