The groove of Stevie Wonder meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers with members of the Funkadelic. That is what Mr Griff can make, not just magical music, but almost like a supergroup revival. He might not be able to boil down the personalities of what make those people tick, but he does it his own way. His debut lockdown album is called Hey Friend, and is a joyous tribute in a time that has been tough.
Finding the beat with Wait Up, this is where you hear the Wonder kid. It is chock-full of piano riffs, swinging bass and Mr Griff singing like there’s no tomorrow. People must be going on at full pace, but he’s asking you to wait up, and has a song to convince you. This is some high-quality production for what is a debut album.
Slow down for a blues jam, but not that slow. Looking Good to Me is the second track, and is a Petty & the Heartbreaker’s style song with plenty of country vibe. From the swinging to the ringing, Griff seems to be taking care of business, left and right (Bachman-Turner Overdrive reference there). This is a pentatonic powerhouse, with the energy of garage rock bands like Black Keys & The Raconteurs.
Elvis in time travel, and its all rock and roll. Somebody Else’s Shoes follows the theme from the previous track and enjoys the gentle blues riffs that strum along with Griff’s vocals. This too is one of those blues songs that just don’t quit being an amazing jam live. The instruments playing in layers make it a rich, textured track with each finding its time to shine.
Bringing in the funk
Bring back the word, with the funk as well. Want to hear some new-age funk? Why change artist and album? Half A Chance is Mr Griff using the power of funk with pop-inspired wind instruments. You have a trumpet or sax in a song and no solo? Run into a wall. As expected, it doesn’t fail to deliver the promised funk in a small, short package-perfect for radio loops.
Call Lionel Richie & The Commodores, they might fear the time travel here. This next groovy number There for You shows the vocal range that Griff has. Altering to the style, it is tailor made for the song, and it’s really a wormhole of time travel for me. All his tracks are inspired from his favorite artists, and we’re in a constant state of genre hopping. Great selection of songs.
And here it is finally. My favorite track of the album yet. Pot Luck is the Sweet Leaf of funk/pop songs, wherein Griff has a riff that just won’t quit and the funk is within him. He retains the amorphous quality of his voice and continues to excel in this genre he has perfected so well. The Orange pedal squeezed out guitar solos with the high treble match the song perfectly, even for the little flourishes.
Fancy a ballad?
The title track, comes next. It is a 80’s ballad style song, but has its George Michael moments as well. The synths explode with a gentle, prepared resonance. Griff once again adjusts to this song style, sounding like Costello in moments, and even Sam Cooke in parts. Training for the song, each track has a succinct tonal quality that reminds you we’re in the same album, but not the same song.
Opening with ambient sounds of wind chimes and the cool breeze getting personified, we begin another tracks journey, Angels Falling. The chill guitar vibes make it a great surf rock track, along with some great R&B flavors. It is truly the amalgamation of different styles with great effort and focus. The percussion changes with song as well, shapeless for each song as it takes form while it plays out.
This next pop/electronica style number On the Weekend, has its New Wave sound moments, but is unique to Griff’s delivery style. The voice is now so distinctly his, even though we have seen it play many characters on this album. The synth has an overpowering, melodic elastic tendency to it. No beats make it a joyous aspect of a Velvet Underground songs moment spread out. Lou Reed would be proud, sir.
A multi-instrumentalists dream
Later is an Elton John style piano number. Try to track down the number of references to bands and groups I’ve made and it is truly shocking. Griff is a talented musician and songwriter who loves music, in all forms. He hasn’t restricted himself to one genre, as this beautiful piano percussive piece suggests. These are the makings of a true musician.
Fuzzy Logic is the last track of the album. Initiating track with some ambient sounds, we quickly dissolve into some clean funk guitar, like Cory Wong’s revival band. Just like Parliament/Funkadelic, Griff lets the groove and rhythm breathe, before adding rap in the style of Grandmaster Flash. This album is a shuffle button between funk, country, blues and other goodness old school.
I wouldn’t even call it revival. Here is a performer who has had a transcedental experience with the music he loves and tried his hand at it. Is it any good? Beyond anything a silly critique from me would change. If you tell someone after they hear this that it is a debut, they will proceed to lose their minds. It is clear that Mr Griff is just getting started. So hold on to your dance shoes and get your groove on.