The 89s have finally put out a debut CD for our listening pleasure–and it is a pure pleasure to hear this work. Eben Grace is an electronics whiz, guitar player, vocalist, arranger, producer, and songsmith. Each of these tunes jumps off the recording and grabs ahold of us listeners.
It starts off with a nod to Bob Dylan with a harmonica riff setting up the title song, “Wash Away.” Eben talks of a world that is not shining but quite dull and offers to “Wash away your sorrows / I am yours and you are mine.” He seems to be saying that with your help and a positive attitude, things will get better. “Back to the Light” says that no matter what happens, she can make it better. It opens with a powerful kick drum and guitar and builds throughout with great dynamics and a perfect backup vocal from Dan Bern.
“Apple of My Eye” has obvious Beatles influence from the opening riff to the right-on vocals. Eben’s guitar work and vocals really shine on this cut. On “Flat Earth,” Eben’s emotive vocal reminds us that the “sunshine will dry your bones and the breezes bring you home, be it round or flat,” with ethereal guitar work by Joe Massa. “Bedlam” is a jaunty tune that is propelled by Brian Schey’s bass and Michael Thompson’s drums, while Eben cuts loose with some raunchy guitar work.
“Busy Ain’t No Excuse” is a soulful love song with fabulous guitar and
exceptionally fine vocal support from Giselle Collazo suggesting that no matter how busy we get we should not let anything get in the way of living life to its fullest. “Sunday Girl” has another great riff and chorus including Jake Coffin’s infamous cowbell and Schey’s rock steady bass. “Little Rock” is a song that references flowers of all kinds on which life is based.
“The Queen” appears to be about the ups and downs of lovemaking. Brian McRae handles this one admirably with some fine acoustic and electric guitars. “Time” starts off subtly with acoustic guitar and Eben’s low-key vocals, but like most of these cuts builds throughout with a great vocal part, “taking us home, time is only taking us home.”
Pick up a copy from Eben or check it out on Spotify and you will probably hear his hooks and original vocal lines over and over in your head like I have been. And watch for the 89s playing a record release show on Joe Kuckla’s flatbed in Lyons on July 18.