Grant Olney’s debut album is a yawnfest, but that’s not such a bad thing. His sleepy vocals combined with Edward Hobizal’s delicate, simplistic piano work and the occasional whisper of trumpet mesh together to form a good Sunday chill-out CD. Influence by The Cure is apparent in the song “Good Morning Lolly,” especially in the bouncy instrumentals, reminiscent of The Cure’s later “pop” songs like “Mint Car.” However, the rest of the album sighs along, lost in pensive thought, with Nick Drake’s posthumous influence apparent.
The opening track “What a Sad and Beautiful World,” “Poplar Street” and the title track add a melancholy urban feel to the album. Despite “Poplar Street’s” bouncing melody combined with bright whistling, lyrics like “he said if money talks then money lies/and if the devil’s real he can’t be too good at disguise/He’s in your green paper” create an eerie ambience which gives the listener the idea that Grant is older than what is first revealed when first glancing at his University-fresh eyes on the album cover.
Yet even with all of his observation on the dreariness of urban life and homelessness, Grant Olney does not preach, but provides his own cohesive commentary through composing his Brokedown Gospel. This mix of social commentary and romantic, slow-dance songs like “Sweet Wine” come together to form the still-developing identity of a college-age artist trying to find himself, as well as his own sound.