FROM BLUES MATTERS (UK)

Album Review for Gracie Curran’s Come Undone.
Released via Vizztone.

This is Gracie Curran’s second album but follows a five-year hiatus since her debut which garnered a BMA nomination for Best Debut.

Now based in Memphis, Gracie wrote all the material and recorded in Memphis and Florida, involving several local musicians such as Memphians, Victor Wainwright and Reba Russell, and enlisted the help of Floridian, Damon Fowler who plays guitar and produces.

Roomful Of Blues members Doug Woolverton and Mark Earley add horns to two tracks. The title track is a lengthy, brooding piece with strong guitar from Pat Harrington as Gracie emotes strongly in a powerful voice that at times recalls both Aretha Franklin and Grace Slick.

Gracie yearns to go back to Ernestine on a gentle acoustic tune with country elements while the rocking tale of late nights and mayhem Stay Up features the horns who give the tune a jump blues feel.

The Things We Love is another ballad with heartbreak in the lyrics and a suitably angst-filled solo from Damon who switches to his lap steel on Sweet Sativa, a paean to cannabis.

Gracie tells us that If Mama Ain’t Happy nobody else will be on a piece of rock and roll with Victor Wainwright tearing up the piano – great stuff!

The extended tearjerker Love Is The Cruellest Thing I Know is a quietly introspective song and a good vehicle for Gracie’s powerful, gospel-influenced vocals, plus a delicate solo from Damon.

The album closes with Catching Sunsets, a catchy tune with more country accents from the slide guitar work, as Gracie eagerly awaits her return home, weary of the road.

At just 30 minutes this is as much EP as full album but there is enough quality in the music to draw the listener in.

Album Review by John Mitchell.

For More Info – Gracie Curran

“We hope not to have another 6 years for a 3rd release of this sparkling soul diva. This album is too good to put our impatience to the test for too long! "

ROOTSTIME MAGAZINE, BELGIUM 

BMan's Blues Report Review

"I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Come Undone, from Gracie Curran and it's meaty. Opening with title track, Come Undone, Gracie Curran is back with her newest release and a lot of soul. This is old school styling with Damon Fowler on guitar, Matt Walker on guitar and bass, Justin Headley on drums, Pat Harrington on drums, Victor Wainwright on keys, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Mark Earley on sax really delivers the goods. Curran's vocal phrasing and style, with a touch of reggae is just right for an excellent opener! High energy swing track, Stay Up!, shows Curran is not only happy digging in deep but very light on her feet. Fowler's fleet fingered guitar work is nicely backed by Jeremy Powell on keys and New Orleans style horn work by Woolverton and Earley give this track extra zip. On shuffle track, Sweet Sativa, Fowler pulls out the slide giving the track a down home feel and playing off backing vocals, Curran has this track right where she wants it. Very nice. If Mama Ain't Happy is a snappy piano boogie with a great bass line by Walker and featuring Wainwright on piano and great vocals by Curran. Excellent! Wrapping the release is easy paced country blues rocker, Chasing Sunset with understated slide work and Curran's powerful vocal right up front. This track has a strong melody with subdued but tight instrumental backing. Very nice closer for a solid release."

AMERICAN BLUES SCENE REVIEW

by Steven Ovadia 

Gracie Curran‘s voice is reminiscent of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. There’s similar
power and emotional directness, which makes Come Undone, her second album, such an
enjoyable journey.

Come Undone is all about Curran’s voice, which has a bluesy rasp but a pure-rock energy. It’s
the first thing you notice on every track and it’s at the center of every song. Curran’s supporting band does a great job of laying down the music, but everything is in service to Curran’s vocals. Which is a wise move.

The title track is a slow burn, a la Alabama Shakes. The music quietly simmers while Curran
boils, pushing back against horns and drums. Her voice covers the track, like a pot lid, just to
keep the analogy going a little longer, not stifling the energy of the track, but creating a tension that makes the song hotter. Sure, the track moves into an odd reggae break, but when you have pipes like Curran, you can make reggae detours. People get it.

While that song has a contemporary vibe, Curran also has some very nice, older-school blues
and soul numbers on the album. “Stay Up” is also horn-driven, this time in more of a blues jazz vein. Here, Curran’s singing is percussive, the staccato performance almost making the track’s drums unnecessary. But Curran manages inject her vocals with tone and melody, so it’s not like she’s rapping, so much as she’s using her voice like a drum kit.

“If Mama Ain’t Happy” also has a 1950s sound. Curran’s band here is relatively stripped down, with some Jerry Lee Lewis-approved piano framing out the song, and some vintage guitar soloing providing period-authentic color. But Curran’s voice centers the tune, once again practically acting as her own rhythm section.

Which isn’t to say that Curran is all about the power. There are quieter tracks, although Curran’s voice just doesn’t seem wired for anything but intensity. She never bulldozes her way through a song, and she’s capable of finesse, but the performances are never delicate. “Love is the Cruelest” is a soulful love song, built upon some sparse guitar, and while Curran is tapping into a serious emotional space, her voice still shines, like a spotlight that can’t be dimmed.

It would be insulting to say Curran could make anything sound good. The songs on Come
Undone are all well-written. Her band is also impressive. Everyone stays out of Curran’s way,
yet the performances are all interesting. They’re supportive but not demure, and that’s a hard tightrope to walk. So while Curran could rest on the laurels of her vocal gift, she doesn’t. There’s a lot of thought and deliberateness in every aspect of Come Undone. But it certainly helps that Curran is starting from such a talented position.

Don & Sheryl's Blues Blog 

GRACIE CURRAN

AND FRIENDS

COME UNDONE

VIZZTONE RECORDS  VT-GC01

COME UNDONE–ERNESTINE–STAY UP!–THE THINGS WE LOVE–SWEET SATIVA–IF MAMA AIN’T HAPPY–LOVE IS THE CRUELEST THING I KNOW–CHASING SUNSETS

Hard to believe it has been five years since Gracie Curran broke into the national spotlight with her debut album, “Proof Of Love,” which garnered a Blues Award nomination in the Best New Artist category.  Since that time, she has taken that big, soul-drenched, bluesy voice on the road, packin’ ’em in at clubs and festivals everywhere.  She has found the time, thankfully for us fans, to release a follow-up, and she and a band of her good friends have just given us “Come Undone,” for the Vizztone label.

These original songs are virtually a musical diary of sorts, chronicling her ups and downs during the last five years.  It was recorded in her adopted hometown of Memphis, with guitarist Damon Fowler producing.  Her other friends on board are some of the cream of today’s contemporary crop, with Matt Walker and Pat Harrington on guitar, Victor Wainwright and Jeremy Powell on keys, and Reba Russell on backing vocals.

This material is poignant and powerful, and can best be described as using music as a healing poultice, after you’ve lost everything and are trying to stay upright until you get your life back together.  That soulfully-intense voice is the glue that holds everything together, and the cuts show her vulnerable side as well as her blues-beltin’-mama style.  The side of her that’s been sufferin’ leads off, as a love affair that’s imploded leads her to “Come Undone,” set over a classic-soul arrangement fired by the horn section.  She revisits that tough aspect of pain-then-recovery with the somber “Love Is The Cruelest Thing I Know.”  “Ernestine,” tho, pulls her back into reality.  It is done acoustically, and conjures up thoughts of a happier place and time.

This set has more light moments, and two of those served as our favorites.  “Stay Up!” is a rollicking rocker that involves good friends, good times, and “a bottle of Bacardi,” ’cause “it’s too late to go to bed!”  Next up, Victor Wainwright gets us all into a boogie woogie groove on the 88’s as our girl unloads on a lover who “came home late, drunk again,” and we all know the rest–“If Mama Ain’t Happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

Gracie Curran took her life experiences over the last five years of near-constant touring and set them to music, to help her cope.  With “Come Undone,” Gracie said it best–“this is life, through music.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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