Chicago based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Althea Grace has packed plenty into her eighteen years. Althea played her first show with the highly respected; Grammy-winning Los Lobos aged eight, an association that continues to this day. More recently there was a debut solo album at fifteen and even more recently touring and recording with Gabe Burdulis in the duo Future Stuff. This would bring her to the attention of guitarist Doyle Bramhall II whose credits include Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and (for those of us with long memories) Arc Angels with Charlie Sexton and the Double Trouble rhythm section.
Althea Grace feels her new EP ‘Dreamers’ shows where she’s at musically and the evidence suggests it’s a good place for her to be. ‘Dreamers’ was recorded at Cartoon Moon Studios in East Nashville and Althea surrounded herself with quality players. Doyle Bramhall II came on board as both producer and guitarist and enlisted his bass player Ted Pecchio, while Andrew Tufano and ex Deer Tick member Robbie Crowell played piano/keys. The players were rounded out by drummer Ken Coomer (Wilco / Uncle Tupelo) who owns Cartoon Moon, which is kinda useful if you’re looking for a good drummer.
‘Blow Them All Away’ opens proceedings and it’s immediately obvious lyrically that Althea is looking to branch out, grow up and gain acceptance as a woman and as an artist. Musically ‘Blow Them All Away’ is nicely constructed pop with a Beatles influenced bridge that verges on 60’s psychedelia by the close. The bouncy ‘Dreamers’ utilises organ, piano and strummed acoustic guitars as a bedrock for some fine harmony vocals. ‘Hold Me’ is next up and is probably my favourite track here. Pecchio and Coomer lay down a solid rhythmic foundation for some glorious keyboard flourishes and a vocal full of yearning desperation. Althea’s vocal here exhibits elements of Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks while keeping her own identity. The rhythm section is again to the fore on concluding track ‘Trapped’ sharing prominence with jazzy piano lines while still leaving space to slip a guitar solo into the mix.
The ‘Dreamers’ EP impresses, while still leaving you with the feeling there’s much more to come from Althea Grace.