“I’m really happy I’ve waited until I’m 28 to release my debut LP,” says Dublin-born, Liverpool-loving Dave O’Grady. “I’ve toured, learned valuable lessons and now I can finally say what I want to say.” You’ll have heard and seen the Seafoam Green band leader around the town before – like many acoustic guitar-toting troubadours, he’s peddled his wares around the city for a while now. The difference with O’Grady, you feel, is that he’s been on a journey of discovery the whole time and not chased anything.
It’s a feeling confirmed by the sound of his first Seafoam Green record, ‘Topanga Mansion’, to be released this November. The ten-track album isn’t an immediate attention grabber, rather a soulful set of tunes drenched in pedal steel polish and authoritative arpeggios on guitar and piano that reveal their beauty over a few listens. ‘Topanga Mansion’ is old school and in no hurry to reach you.
But it will, though, trust us. Co-written and produced by ex-Black Crowes man Rich Robinson – O’Grady and Robinson go way back, with Robinson inviting the Dubliner out on tour with him more than once over the last few years – the LP unfurls its classic Americana sound with songs brimful of meandering melodies, delicious harmonies and tasteful brush strokes. This is a band building a house to stand the test of time.
‘Petty Tyrants’ is a strummed stand-out, featuring honey-soaked boy-girl harmonies and a tasty tune, closer ‘No Wasted Words’ will hold you, thrill you, kiss you and kill you across its stunning six and a half minutes, while taster track ‘Celtic Wonderings’ will leave you breathless with its Waits-ian intro, heavy strings and lofty left turns. Have a listen here:
Influences? Sure, you can here The Black Crowes, later period Ray Lamontagne, The Allman Brothers and The Band in there… but there’s something else happening. O’Grady (or perhaps his experienced production partner, Robinson) hasn’t let that whiskey-soaked vocal styling confine him to a box – there are more delicate laments alongside the hootenanny hoedowns and enough variation across the album to capture modern attention spans. Indeed, it’s perhaps the bruised ballads that will steal your heart.
“In this Internet age, people are too often concerned with rushing around,” says O’Grady. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Fair play to the Irishman… perhaps he should have named the record that, too. Although Seafoam Green have now arrived, ‘Topanga Mansion’ and its grooves appear to be in no hurry to go anywhere but back to the bar and on up to the stage.
Grab your drinks and let’s go join them… the next waltz starts here.
Pic by Martin Saleh