The Trick Is To Breathe
Prima Records 2014
Review by David Bowling
Sid Griffin has put a lot of miles on his voice and guitar. During his time with the Long Ryders, he was considered one of the originators of alternative country as he fused punk tendencies with country music. He moved in a very different direction with his current band. The Coal Porters are an acoustic band who incorporates bluegrass elements into their sound, which ends up being one of the definitions of Americana music. He has now taken a time-out from his band duties to issue his first solo album in a decade titled The Trick Is To Breathe.
Every once in a while an album sneaks up on you and so it is with Sid Griffin’s new release. The music is acoustic but the songs are more diverse and in some cases more eclectic that what usually appear on his band’s albums. It seems as if he let his imagination run wild a bit and the results coalesce into a wonderfully creative whole. Griffin wrote ten of the 12 tracks and co-wrote the 11th. The only cover song is Dino Valenti’s classic 1960’s call for peace anthem “Get Togther.” It’s placement in the middle of the album serves as a hinge for the rest of the music to swirl around it.
“Elvis Presley Calls His Mother After The Ed Sullivan Show” is a poetic story set to music. “Ode To Bobbie Gentry” is a story tribute to the country star, most famous for her number one hit “Ode To Billie Joe,” who walked away from the music industry in the late 1970’s.
“Circle Bar” is a thoughtful song of loss and aging that everyone ultimately faces. “I’ll Forget You Very Well” is a sort of nonsensical ditty that features some fine picking by Griffin, mandolin player Sierra Hull, banjo/fiddler Justin Moses, and guitarist Thomas Jutz. Bassist Mark Fain and drummer Paul Griffith complete the backing band.
Sid Griffin has created an album that is never dull. The Trick Is To Breath is a nice sampling of material that has been waiting to escape his mind.