The difference between one band who is heavily influenced by the past and emulates heroes successfully versus one which merely walks in the shoes of giants is… Risk. How willing that band or act is in taking a risk will often dictate their trajectory much more quickly than one which mires about in mediocrity.
It’s almost a perfect transition, but right off the heels of last weeks mediocre offering from Train, comes the new Big Wreck album… Grace Street.
Big Wreck – Grace Street
released February 3, 2017
Big Wreck is a Canadian-American rock band which is headed up by original members Ian Thornley (vocals, lead guitar) and Brian Doherty (guitar), then rounded out by Dave McMillan (bass) and Chuck Keeping (drums). Yay for Canadian content!
Initially formed by Thornley in Boston back 1994, the group broke up in 2002 after their second album did poorly; with Thornley taking on a solo career in his own band. Fun fact, Thornley enlisted the help of Chad Kroeger to get this project off the ground. But in 2010 Thornley asked Doherty to fill in on his band, which led to him becoming a permanent member, and an eventual “reunion tour” of Big Wreck was promoted. The existing members of Thornley were folded into Big Wreck and the group was back on track once again.
In 2012 Big Wreck released their third album and then a fourth in 2014. Three years later, Grace Street marks the fifth outing for Big Wreck.
It’s a quality effort from these guys, to put it simply. Featuring an elongated instrumental track, Skybunk Marche, which was hinted at over the course of eleven 40 second clips, and running in at 7 minutes in length, this album is progressive rock done correctly. You see dear readers, Big Wreck loves to reference rock and roll gone by, but they add to the history rather than emulating it.
Grace Street is an album of both organic and considered work. Think of bands like Queen, Journey, Boston, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, and you can get a sense of the kinds of music these guys are chasing after. But as I mentioned already, it’s a movement forward rather than mimicry. Tracks like Motionless (my favourite of the record) focus us in on Thornley’s voice while the backing instruments are there for setting the stage and mood. Useless does this to similar effect. And while there are a number of rock ballads in the mix, It Comes As No Surprise, One Good Piece Of Me, and Digging In all come to mind, it’s the moments when Thornley runs free and lives in his lyrics that Big Wreck comes together nicely.
Now with that said, the run time is a little long for my taste. An album almost 70 minutes in length, it also seems to lose some steam after the first seven songs are done. Now to be fair, it took me a bit of time to warm up to this album in the first place, so likely the whole effort will feel better after a few more listens.
After all, the musical progressions, thoughtful melodics, and emotional lyrics are an invitation rather than a battle cry. Grace Street feels like a good title choice when it’s all said and done.
I think the name Big Wreck is a misnomer, because these gents are anything but. They’re hard-working Canadian musicians who obviously have a deep love for the genre they choose to operate within.This is music which deserves to be proclaimed from on high or at the very least, remembered for as long as humanly possible. With a hint of grace, it just might happen, but that’s my theory.