Thursday, April 8, 2010

New music review: Garrett Wall Band - Hands and Imperfections


From the way that "Copernicus Dreams" tumbles out of the CD the instant you press the "play" button, you can tell that Garrett Wall Band has been waiting for you. Their previous CD, Sky Pointing having been released in 2007, Garrett Wall Band likely has had tunes pressed up against the glass waiting to run free.

Hands and Imperfections is the latest offering by The Garrett Wall Band, a four-piece outfit fronted by Irish-born Wall, who has been based in Madrid for more than 10 years. Wall shows the influence that his adoptive country has had on him, paying much respect on this disc, which is flavoured with a traditional-Spanish blend of sounds. Brass (Howard Brown) features prominently on many of the tracks and a drum kit is eschewed for a cajón, the flamenco drum box, played by Robbie K. Jones. On many of the songs, the usual means of percussion are completely abandoned for "foot stomps," "clucks & cracks," "claps," and "kicks & slaps", giving rise to thoughts of flamenco dances.

"Worst-Case Scenario," underlined by Dave Mooney's heavy-handed double bass, brings the sound further south to give a Tex-Mex feel, falling short of the "country" genre but settling nicely into the Americana groove. Wall's vocals are even reminiscent of Hal Ketchum on "Not Anymore".

While the music moves through genres, the lyrics mostly vary on a single theme: love lost and the life that inevitably follows it. But the album title foreshadows the final overview of the collection - imperfections. Though the songs recognize that there have been "Better Days" ("most times it's just one thing that make a good one bad"), they fall on the optimistic side of the fence. Recognizing that life is filled with imperfections makes it easier, as you will hear in each song, to let go of the bad and try to seek the "shelter," the "shade in the sun."

The strongest example of this is how the band moves from lamentation to exaltation with the single chorus, "we're not at the center of the universe," in "Copernicus Dreams," which is easily the most pleasing song on the disc. The group vocals employed on this opening song is a device that carries well throughout the entire album.

The collaboration between Wall and Lua, the female lead singer of Spanish band We Are Balboa, landed the band four weeks on the RTÉ 1 playlist with the first single, "Is There No Freedom?"

Garrett Wall Band ends the album with an homage to Wall's country of origin, "Never Give All the Heart," which is a poem by W.B. Yeats set to music. It's done with a deliciously Spanish interpretation, employing American musician Tom Corbett on the mandolin. The resulting song is a perfect blend of nationalities and an apt note on which to end.

Hands and Imperfections was released in Ireland on February 19, 2010. It is available from,, iTunes, and Amazon. Garrett Wall Band will return to Ireland for some dates in July and can be found gigging in Madrid and throughout Spain. Check them out at their official website or MySpace for exact dates and locations.

Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

posted at Paddy-Whacked Radio™ and Copyright 2010 Natalie Herman and Paddy-Whacked Radio™

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