Flip Grater: While I'm Awake I'm At War (Maiden)

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Flip Grater: Low Light
Flip Grater: While I'm Awake I'm At War (Maiden)

New Zealand singer-songwriter Flip Grater has a rare distinction at Elsewhere: she's the only artist so far who has previously had music posted (here) as well as recipe (here) which she picked up on the road for her cookbook.

This beautifully arranged album, produced by Tim Guy, delivers through understatement as Grater's vocals are soft, almost hinting at the style of introspective French pop singers, and gorgeously melodic in a deliberately narrow and intimate range.

There are pop elements (the gently chiming Careful with its chorus which seduces rather than hooks), hints of alt.country (Be Kind with a veritable Kiwi folk-rock supergroup) and the Pacific (Geoff Maddock's slide guitar in the delightful I Am Alone), and soft Donovan/Buffy Sainte-Marie-like Sixties folk.

Grater delivers a poetic lyric too -- but, and here is the rub, in one song after another every song is from the first person perspective: "I" -- and then the inevitable "you" -- populate all these lyrics and the self-centredness becomes rather cloying over 11 songs.

Grater posits herself as a fragile creature ("Be careful how you lay your hands on me, I may not be as tough as you think"), one who has lost the passion (I am Gone) or is living in the sad movie of life (Bullet That I Ride) . . .

It is in the nature of Sensitive Singer-Songwriters (a genre unto itself) that the all-encompassing "I" should be seeing the world, but Grater never steps beyond that position to invite the listener in to a wider world than her own.

That said, the gentle and well-crafted songs, plus those discreet and discrete arrangements, make this a real step up for Grater -- with the caveat that this is her world and you might only ever feel like a visitor.

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