What have The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, X-Factor winner Joe McElderry and Doctor Who got in common? The answer is the impressively rich and overwhelmingly diverse CV of Scottish Violinist David Grubb who, on debut album High Rise, has met with expectation and then some!
Having garnered praise galore from the great and good of the folk world for some time Grubb has finally sat down and committed to record the tunes that he has been crafting and perfecting for over six years now.
The city and all its gritty urban charm is a recurring theme throughout the eight tracks and tunes that make up the record, which is a refreshing and interesting influence for a style of traditional music that normally evokes rolling hills and shimmering lochs.
Grubb also works an effective quiet-loud-quiet aesthetic throughout the album from which lilting progressions lead seamlessly into mighty climaxes. Opening track Sleeping Giant is perhaps the best example of such texture and structure as a delicate opening is overtaken by building percussion that develops into a riot of galloping beats and strings. It’s stirring stuff and only gets better with each listen.
The city-recorded soundscapes that interweave between songs provide further testament to Grubb’s astute observations on urban life. The intro to Coffee Shop in particular is a gloriously understated jazz piano piece underpinned by the sound of traffic and chinking crockery. It works perfectly and is neither invasive nor contrived.
Indeed jazz is a mainstay of the album, particularly in the case of the piano. It’s used to stirring effect on the gorgeous Glascade with a lazy progression that evokes images of dew scented inner city parks and hazy skies. It’s altogether as beautiful in sound as it is in concept.
Whilst not necessarily as genre-defining as Lau, David Grubb certainly shares a spirit and thought process with the acclaimed trio which helps set him apart from the traditional music stock in much the same way. High Rise is a work of remarkable proficiency that takes some getting used to, such is the surprising nature of the record, but it’s worth every effort and every repeat listen as it gently takes you in and lifts your soul.Rob Fearnley
Released on Shake’Um’Dud Records November 17th 2014
1. Sleeping Giant
2. The Coffee Shop
4. The Climb/86th Floor Jig
7. Bleecker Street/The Busker