Grey Revell

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Grey's excellent disc Little Animals is available at The Store


Every serious artist of any kind knows the work would be impossible if you ever stopped to think about it. You're not allowed to imitate yourself, but at the same time you have to stay true to yourself. So all you have to do is follow your instincts and not over think the thing -- except that you also have to not be stupid. All it takes, basically, is every bit of your intuition and your intelligence -- and some third faculty to keep the one from strangling the other.

Somehow or other, Grey’s always managed to thrive under these no-win rules. I've never dared ask him how, because I didn't want it to be my fault if thinking about it put glue in the pinwheel. But I do know that in the eight years or so I've been listening, admiring and philosophizing -- from his dark, acoustic Midnight Eye to his guitar-heavy, back to the garage Kamikaze (2002) -- he's become more and more himself: the voice grainier, the subjects earthier, the sense of love and awe more rapturous. Now, on Little Animals, he's managed to find the exactly right place to go next. I did finally get around to asking Grey what his story was. He sent me an email saying he was born in Los Angeles, CA. in 1973, lived there until 1998, then New York and New Orleans, where he spent almost 2 years as a neighbor of Alex Chilton and Cossimo Matassa (You know, one of those things that means nothing, but how could you not mention it?) And then to Huntersville, a suburb of Charlotte, where he lives today with his wife and son. He also told me -- I'm just going to quote this -- "I prefer to let my wife buy my clothes these days. I cook a mean Cornish game hen. I have a very selective memory, but I’m good with voices."

Okay, stop right there. See, that's Grey for you. Feigning to tell all, yet giving nothing away. Not a word about his politics (good), manners (ditto), who does his hair (a Cuban at Astor Place, when he's in New York), favorite food (don't know), favorite composer (I'm guessing Ennio Morricone), and exactly how he cooks the hen. (I'm guessing with a lot of garlic). Won't tell you that he's been known to drink a white Russian -- I've seen this done. Won't brag about his taste in selecting people to play with -- he's got to be the only guy with Spencer Chakedis, Brer Brian, Ish Marquez, Peter Dizozza and the great Jeffrey Lewis onstage at any given time -- and in choosing songs to cover. (He's also got to be the only guy to have recorded both the Big Star weeper "Thirteen" and Tom Verlaine’s "Days") And ask him sometime about being the voice of Emmanuelle Chriqui’s lover in "Adam and Eve” -- maybe he'll tell you, maybe he won't. Your basic man of mystery.

So here's Little Animals. And the real mystery, of course, is where he pulls these songs out of, how he knows the things you thought only you knew, and how he makes the music sound like these fluctuations of inner weather. Grey's always had a gift for songs about the utter and absolute misery of love, and in "The Devil’s Boot’s Don’t Creak" it's stretching him on the rack to a new pitch of abandon; yet in the title song, the prospect of two damaged souls truly seeing into one another verges on a impossible act of grace (no pun intended, Patsy). More artfully than ever, he's mixing textures and genres, from lo-fi pop "The Way You Hold My Head" (his "variation on a theme" of Lloyd Cole) to dirge ("This One Tomorrow") to Spaghetti Samurai ("The Honor The Power The Glory"), while always sounding exactly like himself. (Told you he listened to Ennio Morricone.)

Little Animals captures that sense of wonder when you've dared to wish for a fresh impossibility and something more than you thought you deserved drops right out of heaven -- after you've worked your ass off. It's Grey Revell’s best record. Hands down. So far. – The Cappucino Kid Mission Viejo, CA. January 2006

Some kind words:

“…(Grey Revell) stands out…” – Pop Matters Music Review, Nov. 2002 Some kind words:

“…sitting on a gold mine…” – The Blender Music Guide, Nov. 2002.

“…a serious take and thus one of the best…” – Delusions of Adequacy Music Review, December 2002.

“…a collection of undeniably well-written, well-performed tunes…the impressive ensemble of drums, bass, guitar, trumpet, synthesizer, organ, and various exotic percussion instruments make his melodic folk-rock rock that much harder…a more than worthwhile experience…” - The Yale Herald, April 2003.

…”reminds me of Carlos Castaneda doing peyote pellets in the Mojave…defiant & angsty” –

“Folk roots and extraordinary songwriting are the anchor…Acoustic numbers, live instant classics, and driving spaghetti western studio tracks create a versatile mix…” –

“The music speaks for itself. Grey Revell has created his own cool genre…” -


I sing melodic pop songs about crows that watch towns, flying dogs, the devil, the sun, diamonds that burn, girls that change the weather, girls that haunt rooftops, ghosts running through airports, girls with poison lips, taking acid on Corcovado, falling in love with ghosts, killers on St Marks Place with blood on their hands, an emerald train, an emerald's heart, a boy made of fire, closets full of skulls, a skeleton running free, the sky going black, licking stained glass windows, the orange night, the good blue morning, and the elusive "best hour of the day" in between them.

I'm a man, a husband, a father and an artist because the Fort existed. I walked onto the smokestage one night in 1998, with 3 dollars to my name and one song and said "I'm Grey Revell" and somewhere in the smoke someone said "Yes, you are..." -