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Gregory Douglass – “Lucid” Review

Gregory Douglass returns with his brand new album “Lucid” and this time we’ve gone concept – and electro. The most apparent shift in sound for Douglass is a move towards digital and electronic sounds. This comes from percussive beats to lots of synthesised extras, however there’s almost always piano or guitar at the core of each song, and of course Gregory’s amazingly versatile vocals.

Opener “The Night” begins the concept of dreams with a serenading lullaby that’s equally as eerie as it is beautifully warming. The song’s underpinned by a sumptuous music box melody but you can sense that all is not well as the drums and vocals swell and build. It’s a mystical opening track to lull you into the dream world. “Lucid” follows with an elastic band rock anthem that flicks itself effortlessly between pulsating lowfi-electro pop to distorted vocals and crunching drum beats. Something that is used throughout to great effect is reverb distortion and the title track uses it superbly.

“White Out” is a more traditional laid back track with lazy guitar riffs rolling across the speakers and some excellent string work, particularly in the choruses which elevates the track to something you could easily arm sway to with the top down in a car on a summer’s day. The juxtaposition between this track and most electronic track on the album “Naysayer” makes both stand out. The latter track is all about using synthesised bass lines and enough of a pop beat to make this an alternative dance track with lots of ambient clangs and whirls filling up the space where there’s a lack of chords or song progression. It’s unlike anything else Gregory has produced to date and he takes to this new genre with ease.

“Wild” is possibly the culmination of all the above tinkering into a perfect blend of sublime pop rock and indie rock with lots of a technical wizardry. It’s an absolute crowd pleaser with its euphoric chorus and catchy riffs. Easily the most commercially accessible song on the album, it deserves a place on everyone’s playlist. “Shot Down” is a curious track that holds its self back purposely by placing the vocals right to the foreground of the mix which then lets the guitar to burst through in the short blasts its given. It actually ends up being quite rock orientated with its flanging guitar riffs taking over in the second half for fun track.

“Dream Come True” is quiet track with acoustic and electric guitars working in symbiosis, underpinned by bleeding keyboard pads. Even Gregory’s vocals are quite subdued for this track for the most part and it becomes a track of solitude and reflection. “Animal” is the only piano led track on the album which is embellished with electric piano twinkles and some beautiful cello work from Monique Citro whose presence is felt throughout the album. In its complete simplicity, this track is part of my joint trio favourites from the album. Simple, powerful, beautiful and epic.

“Raven” takes the whole frequency tampering and flanging to a new level with the entire song besides the vocals and drums being twisted around in your ears so there is always something going. This is one of the most angst tracks on the album with a great rising chorus that builds tension that’s already prickling and popping in your ears due to the excellent production of the track in general. “One True Thing” harks back to albums gone by with a beautiful love song that’s been a staple on Greg’s albums for a while and is a real spirit raiser. That then paves way the absolutely blinding closer “From Now On” which effortlessly spins around from piano ballad to showcasing plenty of technical wizardry and then ends with a devastatingly heart wrenching cello outro to Greg’s echoing vocals fading away. It’s time to wake up.

“Lucid” is a superb album. With not a dull track in sight, each song has its own purpose, poise and motive. Each is filled with more hooks than a DIY store and top be topped off with Greg’s vocal gymnastics that deserve more praise than I could possible heap on, if you pick up one “lets give it a go” album this year – pick “Lucid”. You will not be disappointed.

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