Gramercy Riffs – It’s Heartbreak

Band: Gramercy Riffs
Album: It’s Heartbreak
Shot of choice: whiskey

Gramercy Riffs released their debut full-length, It’s Heartbreak, last year. And yes, I’m a little late (or a lot late) in the game by reviewing the album now, but given that they just recently played the show we presented at the Piston, I thought it would be fitting that I revisit the album they’re still touring.

As soon as Mara Pellerin (vocals, keys) sings “Oh Linda, how did you manage that?” as the opening line of the opening track of the album, Gramercy Riffs had my attention. In “Little One,” as Pellerin begs, “Come on in my living room,” I wonder how that voice would ever have to persuade anyone to join her. A similar thought springs to mind when Pellerin asks, “Call Me.” Lee Hanlon (guitar, vocals) is Pellerin’s steady counterpart on vocals and does his own share pleading and persuading. The two alternate lead vocals, and there is a connection between the two that really fosters a dynamic energy throughout the album.

As the album title would suggest, a common theme with the album is heartbreak. However, this is not just lyrically, as everything about the vocals and arrangements also grabs at the listener’s heart, twists it and takes it for a ride of highs and lows. “The Freezedown” begins as an upbeat tune only to slow down and have Hanlon passionately pleading, fighting against the hold that love has. This song, perfectly placed in the middle of the album, is the best example of how their sound fits into the genre they’ve claimed as heartbreak/nostalgia pop. The following song, “Dreaming,” is appropriate against Hanlon’s pleas, as Pellerin’s dreamy vocals really soar. “Come Home Darlin,” a song I can distinctly remember hearing live (so perhaps I’m a little bias), has some of my favourite heartbreaking lyrics, moving and completely elevated by the harmonies complementing Hanlon.

This album reminds me of youth, puppy love, and crushes. This album reminds me of falling in love and all the hope, as well as all the letdowns. Yet, this album is crafted to not be a sad album, despite its lyrics. Gramercy Riffs have carved a special niche with It’s Heartbreak, creating a relatable album that is absolutely infectious and swoon-worthy. If they didn’t have your attention before, I sincerely hope they have it now.


Categories: Recorded


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