How Sweet the Sound
Jason Pierce, front man and driving force of Spiritualized, may look a little like Paul McCartney…but he pulls off a vocally improved Bob Dylan much better. The band’s fifth studio album in thirteen years, Amazing Grace, is an amalgamation of influences from acid jazz to Dixieland to the White Stripes.Most apparent is that Spiritualized has attempted to create something soulful and heartfelt. The intensity shines through with the album’s flowing orchestration, hard flanging guitar, and Pierce’s raw and unsweetened voice (hence the Dylan reference). But unless a listener really appreciates the style and influences of Grace, it will be lost on them.
The album has three distinct moods that don’t sit well with each other. The first song, “This Little Light of Mine,” is a wonderful rockin’ cover of the old spiritual, powerful in its monotonous tones, though there are two or three other songs that sound exactly the same. Then it 180’s to bring in a slow and empowering ballad called “Hold On,” a mood that runs throughout most of the album. The third mood is exclusively in “The Power and the Glory,” a jazzy instrumental that unsurprisingly, given Pierce’s love affair with singing about drugs, sounds drug-induced.
Had Pierce taken just one feel and run with it, the album would be a much better cohesive piece. As it is, Amazing Grace feels stretched in too many directions and thus unfinished. There is merit, but only for devoted listeners of either the group’s genres, or of Spiritualized themselves.