More than four years have passed since the release of guitarist/vocalist Dean Grech’s first album “Look Out”.

Looking at the covers of that album and the new record “We Got Lost” should have given me a clue to how much the spotlight has switched from guitar to voice.

The opening song “Shake it Around” with its irresistible groove, snazzy horns and 70’s style chants would not have given me a clue, nor would the blissful samba “Playa Rosa”. Not only is the acoustic guitar to the fore in the latter song, the flute and percussion are a jazz fans’ delight. I’m personally in familiar territory listening (and grooving) to the instrumental “Let’s Go” and I defy any jazz fan not to be drawn in by Hans Zermuehlen’s gorgeous Hammond B3 and by Greg Vail’s gutsy alto sax solo.

I hope, and expect, that NAC stations will pick up the lilting “Wishing You Were Here” with its relaxed atmosphere, whispers of acoustic and electric guitar and wispy female background vocals. Comparisons will similarly be drawn with Peter White’s sound on the haunting “Love Song”, where the female background vocals are complemented by Greg Vail’s lovely soprano sax. I should mention that this is the only song on the album which Dean did not write or co-write. The bebop number “Altercation” is the most straight-ahead song on the album and again that rockin’ Hammond B3 shares centre stage with Grech’s own warm-sounding semi-acoustic.

In my review of “Look Out”, I expressed admiration for Grech’s vocal style and he showcases the many things his voice can do on this record. The funky title track features that voice, with a tone so reminiscent of Michael Franks but with a rasp that takes it to a different place. I had to sit up and take notice during the opening bars of “Nothing More”, which made me think instantly of Everything but the Girl. It should do fabulously well on radio with its insistent groove, repetitive chorus and slightly ethereal atmosphere. I spent a large part of the 1980’s listening to Matt Bianco and “You Don’t Know me Well” brings back great memories of that sound – and that time. The acoustic guitar touches are pretty but they are secondary to that smoother-than-smooth vocal.

“I Don’t Think So” has a bleaker feel than the other songs on this record and Grech sings in such a high register and with particular phrasing that I actually thought of British singer Sade. It’s startling – and I like it – but I had to listen a couple of times. Some fabulous musicians have been identified as much with their singing as with their playing, and “Feeling I Can’t Undo” brings to mind Chet Baker. It’s a lovely song because it’s steeped in jazz and it allows Grech to bring two considerable talents together with no fuss, no drama – it’s a really classy tune. At various points on this record, a love for latin music is evident – and nowhere moreso than on the sexy “Suddenly”, which again is radio-friendly and catchy. If Michael Franks recorded this next week, he’d have a hit with it.

This is really two reviews in one, because this is really two albums in one. It’s clever, because elements are instantly recognisable from “Look Out”, but existing fans are really taken on a journey as a great guitar player spends much longer in the vocal booth for “We Got Lost”.



Rocket Ride Records (2014) – Producers: Reggie Ashley and Dean Grech