Music that fills your soul is always good music. Gramercy Arm’s latest album, The Seasons of Love, would definitely be classified as soul-filling music. The album makes you want to laugh, cry, and dance all at the same time (which may be a little crazy if one actually did all of those things simultaneously, but I think you know what I mean). Based in New York City, Gramercy Arms is an indie pop collaboration of musicians led mainly by the creative genius of Dave Derby. As one of the lead singers for the band, Derby also contributes to the songwriting and producing of the project. Other contributors include Lloyd Cole, Joan Wasser, Tanya Donnely, Matthew Caws, Kendall Meade, Claudia Gonson, Doug Gillard, Erin Moran, Joan As Police Woman, Renee Lo Bue, Ray Ketchem, Verena Wiesendanger, and Gedeon Luke. A lot of these people are involved in their own projects or have just been in the business forever and somehow got involved with Dave and Gramercy Arms. Honestly, after learning more about this band, I want to be friends with all of these people; it seems to be a beautiful gathering of creative individuals and like-minded musicians.
Derby has stated that one of the main inspirations for the album was “old friendships” as well as “reconnecting with people [he] hadn’t seen in awhile like Tanya Donnely, or finally actually meeting and working with Erin Moran”. I think that the vibe and theme of community and love really comes through in their songs. The first track, “Always in Love”, is quite a cheery one, with horns in the background and and an upbeat pop-like rhythm; it speaks precisely of reconnecting with old friends. Some of the lyrics are “Remembering’s tough / I don’t how you keep it up / I’m happy to see you, happy but still I’m skeptical of / The fact that you’re always in love”. In the second track, “Beautiful Disguise”, Gramercy Arms shows us their deeper and melancholic side. Lloyd Cole and Joan Wasser share a duet in this ballad, and paint an almost eerie picture of “drama and world-weariness” as Derby describes it. When asked how this album was different from the first one, Derby replied that “the first album has a sunnier vibe to it. This one still has a lot of upbeat pop songs but also more melancholic undertones to it with songs like ‘Beautiful Disguise,’ ‘Yours Untruly’ and ‘Playing with Fire.’ I think it’s richer and more sophisticated.”
One of my favorite songs on the entire album is “Winterlight”, a very simplistic and romantic upbeat track. It features a happy strumming pattern, tambourine, xylophone, and wistful lyrics like: “Would you stay with me / Through the long cold night And let me be your winter light?” They have sound that’s reminiscent of The Beatles – especially in this song – with a more modern, polished touch to it, as they do throughout the album. “Novemberlong” is a similar track with a happy vibe created through the band’s distinctive use of horns. It is very evident that The Seasons of Love is a product of many talented musicians’ hard work and natural instincts. Beautiful harmonies, artistic weaving of various instruments, reflective, down to earth lyrics, and the genuine feelings of great friendship all make Gramercy Arms who they are and result in the captivating music they have provided for the world. It was truly a treat for my heart, mind, and ears.
DJ Jazzy is a DJ with KSSU