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Old 09-13-2008, 07:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Brisbane
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Default Pilgim Road by Willard Grant Conspiracy

Willard Grant Conspiracy has been a loose collective based around the song writing talents of vocalist Robert Fisher. Willard Grant Conspiracy have released 12 albums of which Pilgrim Road is the latest.


Robert Fisher



Pilgrim Road is a departure in musical texture from the previous release Let It Roll. Where Let It Roll had a hard edge in it's presentation of 10 tracks of an Americana/Folk/Country rock mix, Pilgrim Road is a less melodic album with a more morose presentation. Lyricism has been a strong point of Willard Grant Conspiracy through previous albums with stories of questioning, redemption and loss among many other tales with Pilgrim Road being no different than it's predecessors. The album starts with Lost Hours a slow paced song of Pianos, Horns and orchestration with Fishers deep vocal telling a sad tale of lament. A song that would not be out of place on previous albums but there is a dark change with the 2nd track, The Great Deceiver. This is Fisher singing a song of loss of faith over a country/folk style guitar and gospel choir. Words consists of Fisher asking Where is my, with the my being a Fiery Serpent, a Sharp Eyed Son, God And Saviour and even a Great Deceiver. Iona MacDonald makes a guest appearance to sings a wonderful backing vocals on a very strong song. Jerusalem Bells is next and again a very sombre Fisher sings in a slightly off tune manner over a song that would not be out of place on a Nick Cave Record.
The Pugilist Jim sounds to my ears as a story of loss by a broken boxer though no mention is made of pugilism other than the title. More wonderful orchestration builds this song to an almost uplifting ending considering the lyrics. Two covers, Phoebe and Miracle On The 8th Street follow. Phoebe was written by British mother and son folksters Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight and Miracle is a cover of an American Music Club song from their very good Everclear album. I have not heard the original of Pheobe, a rather dour song but would say that there is some that may consider Fishers rendering of Miracle superior to the original. A wonderful song. Next is a chamber folk song and the highlight of the album Painter Blue. A story of a lady painter who one day "when she got to the waters edge / thought about where she she'd been / wondered what was left to see / stepped right up and dove right in" A beautiful melody that is wonderfully orchestrated and considering the lyrics is rather upbeat considering the general tone of the album. The next 3 tracks Malpensa, Water & Roses An Vespers lead the album back to it's dour roots of melancholy tunes and lyrics. An untitled reprise of The Great Deceiver ends the album on a thoughtful note.

My initial reaction to this album was one of surprise as there seemed a lack of warmth that on previous albums at least backed Grant Willard Conspiracy songs. But with repeated listens the subtle musicianship has added beautiful texture to the overall feel of the album. I have read a revue that described this as Gothic Americana. Not to be listened as background music. Recommended.

Last edited by 4ZZZ; 09-16-2008 at 07:12 AM.
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