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John Greaves - Greaves, Sophia Domancich & Vincent Courtois: The Trouble With Happiness CD (album) cover

GREAVES, SOPHIA DOMANCICH & VINCENT COURTOIS: THE TROUBLE WITH HAPPINESS

John Greaves

 

Canterbury Scene

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Walkscore
3 stars Great music, but not the best vocal performance.

This 11-song collection sees John Greaves record a mix of new and older songs, as he has often done over the last two decades, here with Sophia Domancich on piano, and Vincent Courtois on cello. Each song is thus arranged for piano, cello and voice. There is lots of space in these arrangements, and Courtois' cello playing adds much of the quirk to the otherwise subdued melancholy atmosphere provided by Domancich's beautiful acoustic piano. More than the typical Greaves album, though, the lyrics and vocals here are prominent and emphasized. This works well for some songs, but Greaves is not going to win any singing contests. His voice often goes out of tune, and to be honest I think he sounds like he is trying too hard on many of these tracks. For instance, on the wonderful song "How Beautiful You Are", recorded/released by Greaves a few times already by this point (and written by Greaves and Peter Blegvad), it is not his singing but the cello parts that make this version special for me. On "The Real World", in particular, he pushes his vocals too hard - it would have worked better if he had instead whispered the lyrics. His approach works a bit better on the excellent songs "The Price We Pay" (a great cover of an older song of his), the new songs "No Dice" and "The World Tonight" (my two favourite tracks on this album), and on the lone French song, "Saturne". Meanwhile, on each album, Greaves often references his other work, and changes up some of his lyrics, in a kind of Greaves version of 'conceptual continuity'. On this one, "All Summer Long"/"When We Were Young" references his Greaves-Blegvad classic "The Song", originally released on the wonderful album "Songs". All in all, this is a decent collection of songs, and the piano-cello arrangement really works well on some tracks. However, it is not the best Greaves vocal performance. He is not known for his singing anyway, and I think he should have tried a number of vocal takes using different approaches before releasing this. Given all this, I would not recommend one start with this album, but I nonetheless think it is an important part of his discography. I give this album 6.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Walkscore | 3/5 |

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