Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Grant Earl LaValley - From LaValley Below
Grant Earl LaValley is a haunted man.
When you drop in for a visit at Grant's house, temporal ghosts exist alongside ethereal ones, sharing the same dinner table. As soon as you walk through the door, you're greeted by a table full of phantoms, all looking up from their card game. At you.
It's very frightening, and you're a little nervous about walking in any further.
Each ghost has its own quirks. On the earthly side, we've got the ghost that just won't stop reaching across the table over everybody else, putting his elbows on the table, and generally being disruptive. This is a constant battle with the astral ghosts, who exist only to open the gap between this reality and the next. What's the difference if you don't even have elbows?
Some of the ethereal phantoms go so far as to re-possess the souls of the long-since deceased. This makes for interesting conversations among themselves.
The earthly ghosts take up space with heavy memories, weighty sins, and noticeable scars.
In amongst the spectral haze and commotion, Grant Earl LaValley sings of souls, the memories, sins, and the scars. Each tempestuous ghost is lulled into stillness.
It is now safe to walk in and sit down.
"The In-Betweens" opens the album on a minor-keyed, somber note. One ghost gets up and begins humming along. The porch light glows dimly.
While "Hardwood Floors" plays on, one of the earthly ghosts conjures up memories while the moths furiously dive toward the porch light.
Proceeding forth, by way of the "Backs Of Beasts", the crickets outside made quiet by the lamented braying of mist-hued horses, the moths soldier onward.
"Dark Love" names the ghosts, one by one.
"Call Of The Wild" singularly closes in on a group of ghosts, gleans from their spirit animals, and throws a handful of seeds into the wind. The light shines brighter.
The ghosts leave, now named, one by one, attracted by the light, and curious about the goings-on of the animals outside. "Where Are All My Friends" plays on.
The porch light glows brighter and brighter. So bright that it blocks out everything else, and nothing is left but pure white light. "Seasons" prays and pays tribute to this light. The moths lose their way. A few ethereal ghosts follow the light like a beacon. It leads them home.
"Don't Let It Bring You Down" invites many of the remaining ghosts to join down at the River of Sight. Where it exists, beyond the light, they're made to understand just exactly why the light blinded them in the first place. (Neil Young would be wise to check this version out)
The last few ghosts gather and huddle around a small fire emanating from a soup can on the floor, the only light left, and they return to their card game... The carcasses of moths strewn around the room... "Dungeon Waltz" closes the front door and a final stroke extinguishes the flame.
Grant Earl LaValley has a way with ghosts. A singer/songwriter that conjures up dark phantoms, long chained up, and gives them release from the world.
Dark. Solemn. Sparse. Enchanting... Sounds from a bleak landscape, formed from dust and dry bones & shaped into neat little packages of modest beauty.
Exit Stencil Recordings Facebook page