Greg MacPherson – [Album]

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Rare is the musician that is able to stand back from his subjects – even if he is being introspective – and critique the matter, stoically. How does one not get close to that work? As soon as one begins to write a song (any song), the urge for the writer is to attempt to inhabit it, live it and love it; it doesn't happen often that a singer can just chronicle events. This is the ability that Lou Reed has built his entire career on, Bob Dylan has been known to do it on occasion throughout his career too – and singer Greg MacPherson joins the club with his new album, Mr. Invitation, as he chronicles his own cerebral mapping and his surroundings, dry-eyed.

The album starts out rockist enough as “First Class” leads off with some wiry, very alt-rock-radio-ready guitar lines beneath MacPherson as he plays the roll of manic street preacher, melodically ranting about his current quandary (he belts it out that he “wants to believe,” it's hard not to believe him), getting “drunk as a sailor,” and doing it all in the pursuit of a woman “with a mind of her own.” That's all well and good, but there's no doubt that much of the song (but not the underlying sentiment) is put on; there are grains of truth in it, but much of the performance is for the audience's benefit. He wants to grab listeners by the ears and get them to pay attention, and he succeeds.

With that notice won, MacPherson doesn't shrink from his position but actually gets a little more agitated briefly on “Outside Edge” (check the “I don't want no liberal hand of fortune, just the thought of you” choral rejoinder) before locking into that low, wildly critical but emotionally numb mindset in “Smoke Ring,” where he remains for the duration of the record. That anti-emotional center is and incredible one; through the title track, “Backflow,” “Broken Dreams” and “Visitor,” MacPherson enacts vignettes of darkness and painful memories, but does not give listeners the impression that he really feels any of it. Well – that's not exactly true; he feels it, but like a shell-shocked veteran, he doesn't give anyone the satisfaction of cracking up letting listeners know that the darkness he's walking through is beginning to get to him. Instead, he articulates his images artfully and lets listeners fill in the emotional gaps to flesh them out and make them their own. A great example of that angle MacPherson has taken sits almost unnoticed in “Travelling Style,” where the singer mutely and dismissively states simply, “I'm moving on.”

All of the extensions that appear on Mr. Invitation are of a darkness that anyone who has ever had his heart broken can relate to, but MacPherson doesn't trust his audience enough to let them in just yet. That may come on future releases but, even if it doesn't, Greg MacPherson has teased listeners in just the perfect way to keep them coming back: on Mr. Invitation, the singer has given listeners the essentials, but it's up to them to flesh the rest out. What listeners will get out of this album is exactly as much as they're willing to put in.



Greg MacPherson – “First Class” – Mr. Invitation


Mr. Invitation comes out on March 30, 2010 through Smallman Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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