While only one member can boast born and raised status, it is certainly still fair to call this performance from Brooklyn Based quartet The Grey Race a high profile, hometown test…one the band passes with flying, melodic colors. Recorded at the World's Fair Showcase during the 2007 CMJ Festival, the band pulls on plenty from their recently released debut, Give It Love, throughout this performance. Showing why the album won crowds and critics alike, Jon Darling – his glorious falsetto smoothing over any edge at all – fronts a band who should claim expertise in the field of mid tempo torch songs and elegant, melodic rock.
Jon Darling's own musical instincts were developed as a lad growing up in New Plymouth, New Zealand. He stumbled onto songwriting after learning The Cure's "10:15 on a Saturday Night." "I figured out how to play it, and I was blown away," he recalls. Ethan Eubanks hails from the San Francisco bay area and has spent the last 10 years recording and performing with many singer songwriters and bands including Ivy, where he met Andy Chase, who mixed the record and EP and ultimately signed them to his label. Jeff Hill, who was raised in New York tri state area, is one of New York cities most respected bass players and he has shared the stage with many greats including a long standing stint with Rufus Wainwright both in the studio and his touring band.
The songs populating Give It Love were recorded with a little drum set, a ProTools rig, a Mac, and a few basic microphones in Jeff's bedroom in Brooklyn, NY. Friends (including Tracy Bonham, for whom Jon plays guitar) and family (Julia Darling, Jon's singer-songwriter sister) were called in to lend backup vocals, keyboards, vibes and strings, all contributing to a richly textured, deeply atmospheric sound that belies its humble origins.
"The process of making this record was so great," Ethan attests. "We were doing it for the love of it." Without a record deal, says Jeff: "There was really no purpose except trying to make some cool music. And we didn't labor over it." The resulting EP (boasting a brilliant cover of The Zombies "Care of Cell 44") and full-length debut are windows into the particular way Jon seems to have lived his life since leaving New Zealand for America. Certain themes emerge, however. Album standouts "Goodbye to You," "The Johnsons" and "The Stop Inside Your Start" limn the pitfalls of too much of a good thing. Jon notes of the latter, "That's a reminder to myself of how excited about life and excessive I get, and how I tend to jump the gun on things like drinking and partying. The best lesson for me to learn is to stop before it starts."