Johnathan Rice - Good Graces 
Johnathan Rice - Good Graces

Release Date: 25th November 2013

Mr Rice describes this album as a healing record that he wrote as a way to help people he loves to come through some dark times which, as a sentiment, is pretty awesome. I've had one or two dark moments (haven't we all?) and if somebody had written me an album to say 'Hey buddy, it's alright, things will get better' then I would probably have had a good cry and then gone outside to fall in love with the world again. As the album begins with the gentle, sandy swing of 'Acapulco Gold' it is immediately obvious that Rice is in healing, empathetic mood and the fact that he is channelling Evan Dando's voice only makes this all the warmer on your ears. The slow stomp of 'My Heart Belongs To You' is somewhere between Flaming Lips and the Killers with Jack Johnson on vocal duty which is a group of guys I'd want around me if I was feeling bummed out so, again, spot on. Things get a little livelier on 'Nowhere At The Speed Of Light' which is full of jangly guitars, Rice's dreamy vocal and punchy dreams which make you want to get out of your funk and in to the shower, at the very least. Considering when this album was recorded and subsequently released, 'Lou Rider' is an incredibly timely stylistic homage to the much missed Lou Reed with Rice talking on that oh-so-cool rock star drawl and roping in some doop-doop style backing vocalists for extra soul effect. I think we're ready to put some clean clothes on now.

The hopeful, optimistic opening strains of 'Empty Head' are like opening your front door and immediately getting a smile and a nod from the postman as you feel the sun on your skin for the first time in days. 'Good Graces' immediately takes up the mantle with Dylan-esque lyrical structures and a bouncy acoustic riff that will help you walk down the street to the shop for some proper food and, most importantly, a little human interaction. The crescendo ending of 'Good Graces' needs to be played to a Springsteen sized crowd for maximum sing-a-long impact but for now it's just fine rattling round my head. As we hit the final third of the album, 'Surfer's Lament' is mariachi-lite music mixed with expansive vocal effects and Dick Dale guitars that transport you to a beach party in Hawaii where you are bound to be having a good time. The gently twanging guitars of 'Soldiers' would be perfect to wake up on said Hawaiian beach to the morning after the night before as the sea gently nibbles your toes and Rice's voice tickles your ears. To wrap it all up, 'That Summer Feeling' comes along as a kind of "my work here is done" message, Mary Poppins for the bummed out generation, if you will. Rice obviously understands pain and would be a good guy to have around if you needed a shoulder cry on so I'm glad, for his loved ones, that they have him but sad that this album only exists because some people had to go through dark times. Forget time, music is the true great healer here. .