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Easy Not Easy

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Album Review

The fourth album by Portland, OR's Graves — as ever, singer/songwriter Greg Olin and various friends, including members of his Hush Records labelmates Norfolk & Western and fellow Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter Nate Ashley — continues the fleshing out of Olin's original D.I.Y. bedroom pop sound that began on 2005's To Sur w/ Love. Cory Gray's keyboards and trumpet are hugely important to the sound of Easy Not Easy, giving the album an intimate feel that's very close to the mid-'90s cult chamber-pop duo Cardinal: if Gray is this album's Eric Matthews, then Olin's skewed lyrical sense, fondness for slightly fractured song structures and odd musical tangents certainly recall Richard Davies. Highlights include the unexpectedly jazzy ballad closer, "Death Left a Message," and the surprisingly affecting "Nevermind My Love," which makes genuinely good musical use out of the sound of lo-fi, Morse code-like signal decay mimicking the forlorn lyrics. Building on the improvements of its predecessor, Easy Not Easy suggests that there may yet be better to come.


Formed: Portland, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Singer/songwriter Greg Olin is at the head of the subtle indie pop/rock of Portland-based Graves. With Olin getting plenty of backing help over the years from a rotating cast of family and friends, Graves first issued Love Love Love in early 2003 through Film Guerrero before settling in comfortably over at Hush Records for August 2004's Yes Yes Okay Okay, the latter album featuring members of Norfolk & Western, Desert City Soundtrack, and Little Wings. Full of tracks that were recorded over a four-year...
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Easy Not Easy, Graves
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