Its been more than 5 years since AMG reviewed Ohio crooner Griffin’s House’s 6th self-released album Flying Upside Down. Since then, House has released 3 more albums on his imprint label, Evening Records. The latest of which, Balls, boasts nine tracks co-produced by House. The album “comes from a place I’ve never written from before,” claims House who turned to crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, for help financing the record. Read more about the making of Balls in this interview with Huffington Post .
This review was originally published February 17, 2009. Griffin House will be playing Eddie’s Attic on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:30 pm.
Many a musician has made a living playing music from the heartland. It is a sound that is full and majestic, while simultaneously speaking in the voice of the regular guy. Griffin House has thatsound down, thanks largely to producer Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow), who called in two of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, for guitar and keyboard duties.
House’s plan was to write personal songs with universal appeal. When a friend was called to Iraq, he wrote “I Remember (It’s Happening Again),” told from the point of view of a World War II vet who cannot understand why we were in Vietnam and why we are in Iraq. With an anthemic feel, it is in the upper tier of all the anti-war songs that emerged in the last couple of years of the Bush presidency.
Many of the other songs deal with various relationships, and range in style from folk to all out rock. The stylish techno sound of “One Thing” would not sound out of place on a Roxy Music record, while the standout, the folksy “The Guy that Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind,” recalls Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” and does so favorably. It’s a beautiful, word-filled love song that sounds like something a working class guy would write – if he was an immensely talented songwriter.
House’s lyrics often fall into cliche, but his rich vocals and sound more then make up for them. While the CD veers into mediocrity in the second half, it is literally saved by the gospel hymn “Waiting for the Rain to Come Down.” Obviously influenced by one of House’s favorite bands, U2, House conveys his pain without finding ultimate redemption. But as the music swells, we all feel healed.