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Cary Grace - Lady of Turquoise CD (album) cover


Cary Grace


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 40 ratings

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5 stars Cary Grace comes from the US, but makes music that is based from the British psychedelic movement from the late 60s/early 70s. In fact, she is so devoted to it, that she now resides in the England making music, riding motorbikes and running a business making Wiard boutique modular synthesizers. In her early recording years, she moved to Nashville with the singer/songwritier vibe, making more acoustic sounding folk, but with her desire to become more "artful", she went in feet first to explore the psychedelic movements. She began releasing albums in 2004, and since then, has released 7 full-length studio albums and several EPs. Her 7th album was released in January of 2020 and is called "Lady of Turquoise". This lovely album is made up of 13 tracks of psychedelic music with a twist, the songs are based around a more melodic style. What you get, as a result, is a collection of accessible music that also isn't afraid to explore, but not be over-indulgent. There is a plethora of psychedelia here, beautifully made compositions that also keep your attention while still putting you into the right frame of mind. Grace, above everything else, is a sadly ignored artist that should be recognized for her melding of lovely psychedelic music with a strong sense of melody.

"Khepera at the Dawn" begins the album with a nice, layered instrumental, setting the mood for the strong psychedelic sound of the album while exploring a blues-style attitude. "Letterbox" then proves the statements I previously made about her melding of this wonderful psych-pop sound that she makes. Layers of synths and guitars take the listener into familiar territory, reflecting the sounds and ingenuity of Pink Floyd mixed with a sense of the modern, alternative flair which continues in "Without a Trace". However, with "Into Dust", there is an even heavier sense of the dreamy and strange with the sounds of a tortured guitar and Grace's psychedelic-infused vocal manipulations. The spooky guitar effects flow into "Afterglow", which soon takes off in a more moderate rhythm which shows more push from the drums. Keeping with a feeling of distinction between her tracks, this time her lyrics are spoken in a way that demands for you to hear them, even when they are mostly whispered. You'll find yourself drawn into the music, brought there by her hypnotizing use of her voice, then suddenly buried in heavy layers of guitar and synth.

Just when you think you have heard it all, she brings in a beautiful sax to introduce the almost sensual "Film Noir". Again, one is reminded of Pink Floyd, as the combination of structure (melody) and improvisation (free flowing instruments) blend together perfectly. Her folk influences find a perfect home in the 12 minute "Costume Jewellery" as she brings in the mid- Eastern instrumental blend to the psychedelic sound. After several somewhat shorter songs, this track takes time to explore and mesh the psychedelic combination of violin and guitar with the continuing drone-like twanging of the traditional instruments continuing in the background. This track, and some other long ones to follow, only cement Grace's inclusion into the psychedelic genre, allowing her guest musicians ample time to explore her soundscape.

The moderately slow pace of the drums and wandering guitar will bring back your chemically-enhanced memories of early Pink Floyd as she adopts a more free-form style of singing (but still based around a simple melody) and the lead guitar shares the lead with her vocals on "Moonflowers (Fade to Black)". This blues-infected trip in a minor key will make you feel like she is singing and her band is playing just for you, up close and personal. Her controlled angst soon calms, and the music calms with her, and she again hypnotizes you and then later brings back the intensity, the heavy guitar following her perfectly. "Sacrifice" on the other hand, moves to a lighter palette of sound with an easy beat and a more accessible singing style which could easily fit in a radio play-list, except in an edited version since it is over 10 minutes. Even with it's more accessible sound though, it tries to wander off into the unknown, but is always brought back to its more structured style, though it does get more exploratory in the last section.

"Memory" is a nice reflective song with soft guitar backing up Grace's lovely vocals. The melody is quite lovely and, even though it is a shorter track, it takes time to build in emotion and power and then release it all as it comes back down to earth again. "Castle of Dreams" takes us back to long form music with its 11+ minute run time. A quick build brings us out of the melancholy sense of the previous track and a boiling guitar line push Grace's lyrics and vocals out emphasizing their importance, and the guitar swirls and wraps its cries around her vocals. Things level off and float along at a smoother pace after a while. Overall, this sounds more like a Hawkwind-inspired section but with more complicated lyrics, vocals and a better combination of structure/improvisation. This one is the most lyric-heavy of them all, yet every note is important as it uses progressive structure to bring its many moods across. Definitely a highlight among what are already many highlights on this album.

"The Land of Two Fields" is the shortest of the tracks here at just over 2 minutes of instrumental synth-bliss. This melody is continued in the last track, which is the 11+ minute title track. Building off of the previous riff, the music builds in a crescendo and then levels off with an even, moderate beat and lovely melody enhanced by more free-wheeling guitar. The music floats along easily with this beat. Between the short verses are long, flowing passages of musical bliss layered by guitar, synth and the (by now) well-established bass and drum riff. The music goes on and on, and you want it to. It's a perfect foundation for an enticing jam and finally comes in for a landing in the end leaving you only wanting to start it all over again. As far as psychedelic and space rock goes, it is absolutely perfect!

Is it possible to mix structure with psychedelic and space rock wanderings and pull it off? It is, and Cary Grace does it with (dare I say it?) grace! This beautiful and well put together double album deserves to be in the spotlight, by all means. Amazing song writing, beautiful exploratory passages, real-Floydian attitude that comes across as authentic, yet at the same time, very relevant and new sounding. It has been a long time since someone has been able to convince me that we can still be tapped in to the unique sound of the early 70s and not sound like she is trying to copy it, but expand on it and make it something that can appeal to everyone. Easily a 5 star album that will be a contender for the best of a new decade. A masterpiece of psychedelic proportions for the new and old ages, this is an album that should be on everyone's radar in 2020.

TCat | 5/5 |


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