Review : Gregory and the Hawk - Leche
PopmattersHere’s a stripped-down record of melancholy bedroom pop sung by a woman whose voice has been called the “crystalline coo of a clearly gifted singer”. The entire time I suffered through Leche, all I could think was, “Take some vocal lessons!” Have I lost my mind?
But blame it on me. I must admit that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to vocals. Off-key male vocals are completely tolerable to me as long as the music is quality. However, when it comes to female vocals, if they aren’t at least nearly pitch perfect, I absolutely cannot stand to hear it. There are apparently a large group of people who think Meredith Godreau, the, er, mastermind behind Gregory and the Hawk, is the songbird of our generation (to quote a favorite film of mine). I have to be cocky here and say that my ear is tremendous. I’ve been told that since I was a young boy. And I know many female vocalists, personally, who are brilliant. Even if Godreau recorded this in her bedroom, intimate and without the auto-tuning of a professional studio, please forgive me, but her voice is simply atrocious. And that makes Leche an almost complete failure.
Sometimes, personal vocal obsessions aside, Godreau succeeds. The best composition on this album is “A Century Is All We Need”, a very strong piece of work that blankets you with the loss of hope, as if you forgot to take your anti-depressant for a few days. I know that doesn’t sound pleasant, but it’s nearly beautiful and shows promise. Other tracks like “Soulgazing” lighten the mood, with its mid-tempo indie pop recalling a less atmospheric and more jovial Azure Ray....full text
NmeGregory And The Hawk, aka Meredith Godreau, is the Nick Drake of living people. Her third album continues her journey into spectral, haunted, child-like music, getting ever eerier as she perfects winding your brain round her sweet melodies like a music-box. Sure the likes of ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ may verge on tweeness, but the mournful string arrangements give her songs an odd feel which undercuts any queasiness. ‘A Century Is All We Need’ is delicate but raw, ‘Leaves’ has a harder edge – well, as hard as you can be on a mandolin – and you’re left with the sense that Elliott Smith may be gone but there’s still some bruised poets carrying his torch....full text
DrownedinsoundThere is something about the realm of folk music that tends to lend itself to being populated by, shall we say, distinct characters. Why, I don’t quite know. It may be a consequence of folk traditions attracting unique personalities, or the fact that the loose arrangements found within the music allows more interpretation and experimentation than other musical forms, I’m not entirely sure. But you don’t tend to get ‘normal’ folk singers.
It’s a fairly safe assumption that Gregory and the Hawk’s Meredith Godreau isn’t someone who is particularly normal. It isn’t particularly normal for people to name their projects after their brother and their imaginary pet (this is all I will say on the name or I may lose my temper) and it isn’t normal to sing in such an oddly affecting, helium-lined vocal. What is also pleasingly different is that within her scope and sound you discover a startlingly refreshing musical direction. The problem is that in execution, the content of Leche is frustratingly hit-and-miss. For every moment of brilliance there is an equal and opposite moment of 'why on earth did you think THAT was would work?' For the majority of Leche, Meredith jumps back and forth across that thin dividing line between being brilliant and being twee so many times that you start developing exhaustion just listening to it.
It is a record of contrasting successes and failures. The glorious opener ‘For the Best’, for example, is a perfectly crystallised sliver of simple melancholy. Indeed, the opening three tracks are delectable, with the cyclical, carefree ‘Over and Over’ being especially praiseworthy. Things begin to unravel a little on ‘Soulgazing’ which is overlong and overproduced, taking something delicate and polishing any hint of emotion out of it; ultimately coming across as something you might hear providing anonymous backing on The O.C. Similarly, ‘Geysir Nationale’ never takes wing despite its tumbling strings, you wait for something to happen and before you know it, it’s all over. ‘Freebeight’ is similarly inconsequential. Thankfully, things do improve. ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’ (atrocious title aside), is gorgeous, simple and bedecked with shimmering baubles of prettiness and swirling, ethereal harmonies. ‘A Century Is All We Need’ is the best track on the record, a translucent and mournful mirror of fragility with Godreau’s double-tracked vocal held up only by sparse fingerpicking, complete with what sounds like sobbing in the background. It is the first time Godreau fully lays her heart on the line and the results are spellbinding....full text
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