Laura Jane Grace - 'Stay Alive' Album Review


Tracklist:

1. Swimming Pool Song

2. Calendar Song

3. Shelter In Place

4. Return To Oz

5. Mountain Song

6. SuperNatural Possession

7. Hanging Tree

8. Please Leave

9. Why Kant I Be You

10. Ice Cream Song

11. The Magic Point

12. Blood & Thunder

13. So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Fuck Off

14. Old Friend (Stay Alive)

It’s been an interesting six month hasn’t it? There have been lows such as not being able to see your family or having to ration toilet paper because Sandra from number 46 has filled her garage with a truck full of the stuff. There have also been highs; many have finally realised just how important the NHS is, others have bonded and acted with community spirit and, of course, the news that Genesis can’t tour this year.

So, how have people been filling the time since this spiky little bastard made its presence known? Some people have learned new skills, others have taken to celebrating birthdays by visiting pop up opticians in (not so) local beauty spots and many of the resident bullshitters on LinkedIn have been quick to boast about their amazing use of the time we were all given – solving Goldbach’s Conjecture whilst simultaneously curing World Peace and inventing a perpetual motion device made from 100% recycled material.

Someone who has been busy is Laura Jane Grace. Faced with cancelled tours and the fact that her band mates were spread across the country, she took a bunch of songs she’d been working on and booked time in Chicago’s Electrical Audio and made an album with Steve Albini. The result is ‘Stay Alive’ - 14 songs that feature Laura, an acoustic guitar and a drum machine. As you might gather from that, the album has somewhat of a pared down, demo feel to it which allows her fabulous voice to grab you and draw you into the emotions of the songs.

Laura’s great fear before starting was that waiting to record them would “kill the songs” but listening through I can’t help but feel that not waiting might have had a greater impact on some of the songs. Whilst ‘Mountain Song’, the very Mr. Kite-esqu ‘Ice Cream Song’ and, possibly the best track on the album, ‘Hanging Tree’ work really well in this low key state, there are others such as ‘Swimming Pool Song’, ‘Why Kan’t I Be You’ ‘Calendar Song’ and ‘The Magic Point’ which you feel have suffered by not having a full on band version – there’s just something in the back of your head that says “there’s something ‘bigger’ there waiting to come out”. The only song I truly didn’t get was ‘So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Fuck Off’ which just feels like a filler and thus a disappointing waste of a good title

Laura made this album for herself, to ‘put this out because it makes me feel alive and it’s giving me something better to do than sitting here losing my mind while the world falls apart’. And therein, I think, lies the problem for me – fans will devour it whereas for the uninitiated such as myself, it’s more of a hard sell.

Website - www.againstme.net

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LauraJaneGrace/

Review - Chris Watson

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