I have said it before that an entire album composed of vocals and a single guitar tests my patience. No matter how good the guitar playing is or the vocals are delivered I start to get antsy and need to hear some sort of change.
The Grand Design by The Nothing Kings, which is Gil Michael (guitar/vocals) and Jim Clarke (lyrics) is one of those albums that moves at a slow pace with melancholy acoustic songs and almost get away with it because almost everything else works. I liked the singing style and the lyrics. Some songs work better than others but more on that later.
The only issue I had with this album is that the energy doesn’t change much in any degree. Especially upon first listen the songs sound interchangeable because of the energy in which they are delivered. Suffice it to say a couple of faster, more upbeat songs would have gone a long way and additional instruments would have greatly helped the overall ebb and flow of the album.
The lyrics are often metaphysical, poetic and avoid narratives. Take for instance one of the highlights entitled “Perfect Inertia” which is a highlight. Michael sings “Perpetual motion was never my game / Decisive inaction is my only aim / Spinning my wheels / No cards left to play / Perfect inertia / No demons to slay.” I was reminded of Neil Young at times when listening to this song.
The lyrics are reminiscent of Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. When I was listening to “Great Unknown” and “Desire & The Grand Design” The Dark Side of The Moon kept on popping in my mind.
The second half of the album starting with “Restless Angel” is where the songs start to run into each other and almost feel like one long track. I thought the vocal delivery was great and the guitar playing was solid.
The Grand Design is not the easiest of listens from beginning to end but is rewarding and full of solid songwriting and great lyrics. It may take some effort but give this album a couple of spins. That way you can always go to your favorites later.
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