Exposé Online banner

John Greaves — Life Size
(Manticore Records no#, 2018, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2019-03-09

Life Size Cover art

With Life Size, John Greaves gives us a set of songs that are pretty far removed from the avant-garde tendencies of some of his past work, though they’re hardly mainstream or without interest. Between the crooning vocal delivery, the deliberately artistic intent, and the atmospheric production, I’m reminded of Scott Walker’s Tilt, though Life Size is much more accessible. It should come as no surprise that comparisons to Peter Blegvad’s work come to mind, along with occasional hints of the classic Kew Rhone that Greaves did with Blegvad and Lisa Herman back in 1977. To follow up one some of these thoughts… The “artistic intent” is on full display when you look at the sources of the lyrics. In addition to Greaves himself, Blegvad, Lisa Herman, and Robert Wyatt, we see such names as James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Paul Verlaine, and Guillaume Apollinaire, and being the semi-literate person I am, I had to look up a couple of those. Two tracks are new versions of songs familiar to me: “God Song” by Robert Wyatt and Phil Miller, and Blegvad’s “How Beautiful You Are.” One of the highlights is a track called “Kew Rhône Is Real,” with lyrics by Lisa Herman and music by Greaves, which revisits its namesake in style and oblique imagery. A couple of songs are in French and one in Italian. Greaves is joined by Annie Barbazza, Himiko Paganotti, and Valérie Gabailon harmony or duet vocals on about half the tracks. For the most part, the mood is on the mellow side, encouraging close listening rather than dancing, and the arrangements feature small ensembles of strings and winds with keyboards and very little guitar. This is tasty stuff, unabashedly drawing on the traditions of European culture — how often do you hear music backing a recitation from Joyce’s Ulysses?


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Jakko Jakszyk, Zeena Parkins, John Greaves, Sophia Domancich, Annie Barbazza

More info
http://www.manticorerecords.com/life-size

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

St. Mikael - Visions of the Unknown – Amateur psych, like the two reissued titles here by Swedish musician St Mikael, is not flattered by the CD medium. The effect-lavished, drivel-through-a-tunnel sound that these types of garage...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues