(2019 - self release - USA)
Shake a barrel of Stackridge, The Beatles, the happier moments of Steve Miller Band like 'Going To The Country' or 'I Love You', references to the more modern artist The Brigadier, even a touch of less melancholy The Incredible Sting Band, and a color wheel of psychedelic 60's upbeat sunshine era artists all mixed in for a fantastic smoothie. One characteristic about Gregory Curvey's Custard Flux is that he keeps it almost all organic. Even the one cheat of electric guitar (only one song each album) is used in such a tasteful way, it is hardly noticed as an electric instrument, and never an intrusion. Staying acoustic has been the intention of this project from the beginning (there is only one prior Custard Flux album titled 'Helium' - 2018, which I also reviewed).
With the continued happy harmonies and jangly cloud gazing sounding Brit pop, Curvey has another beautifully woven set of songs to bestow upon us. This time instead of playing all the instruments himself, he pulled in help from Timothy Prettyman - double bass / Vito Greco - guitar (who appeared on his old band The Luck of Eden's 'Starship Trooper' album) / and Walt Prettyman - violin. Gregory Curvey handles Vox (the one electric instrument), piano, Harmonium, guitars, mouth-harp, drum kit, and all the composing and lyrics (except one song 'Extraordinary Man', he had help with from his friend Tim Ferguson). The cover art is by Gregory Chamberlin. Gorgeous work too. An already sold out limited edition color on color (opaque orange and transparent sky blue) LP is sold out but the transparent blue vinyl version is still available, and the ltd. ed. compact disc (which I requested and was sent) is also still for sale. The vinyl versions also include a bonus 5 song disc, which does not come with the CD. While all the packages are great, it is the music that is most important. So many hues and intoxicating touches are given to the pieces on 'Echo' that headphones are recommended, although I also listened in grand open audiophile stereo quite a few times as well.
The arrangements are perfect in every way. Balance, mix, performance, choice of instruments at any given moment, pick of song order (often overlooked or badly handled by others), and production - all keep a do-it-yourself feel and allows the artist to control and create an intimate conversation with the listeners. Curvey has his own sound but the references given are to try and give the newcomer a glance of what Custard Flux is all about. As far as Curvey's voice, it is soft, gentle, and something like if you imagined Tony Mansfield (songwriter, producer, musician most famous for lead member of New Musik) or James Warren (Stackridge, Korgis, solo) doing bedroom records in the British invasion mode. A very pleasing voice.
Strange that the song 'America' (track #3) was so prophetic and Curvey either had a crystal ball or things just fell into place on this tune, being out a year before the Covid-19 takedown. But then again, the American political system has been broken to pieces for a long time. It cannot be emphasized enough about his wonderful multi-instrumentation along with his wise past but still sweet vocals and John Lennon like philosophy. Heavy on the Harmonium, saturated with acoustic guitar, this album will bring back the smiles to people 60 and over, but also to anyone who plays and spends any serious time listening to it. Their lives will be blessed and ears will be caressed. Music like yesteryears but created in our present time. Gregory Curvey gifts us with glowing songs that overflow with rays of sunshine. Honest, caring, giving,, prudent, divine, and sometimes full of flowers, this music will make your life better. VERY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4 - 8 - 2020