Singer-songwriter Michael Gray was – and always will be – a child of the ’60s. His debut CD, Too Worn To Mend, is reminiscent of the folk-rock movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s, with a touch of contemporary influences such as Wilco and The Jayhawks.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, Gray and his Somerville-based band, American Beauties (www.americanbeautiesmusic.com), will play a CD release show at Sally O’Brien’s Bar, 335 Somerville Ave., in Somerville. They will perform two sets, at 9 and 11:30 p.m. Everyone attending the show will receive a free CD.
Along with Gray, the live band consists of lead guitarist Jonas Kahn and drummer/backup vocalist Jeff Allison – both of Somerville – and bassist Justin Kolack.
“I grew up listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Byrds and The Band,” says Gray, who writes and sings all the group’s songs as well as playing guitar and occasional harmonica. “I loved the harmonies, the feel of the music and the emotion behind it. It’s a style I’ve always embraced and is very prevalent on the record.”
With solid rhythms, creative instrumentals and tight vocal harmonies, the Beauties are able to pull it off. The songs, for the most part, examine life’s many challenges and our reluctance to change.
There are, however, some nice diversions from this theme, giving the CD a pleasant mix of subject matter. Gray takes a jaded look at our abuse of the environment in “Hole in My Lung,” noting that “we keep pretending there's nothing wrong.”
A trip to New York City inspired “Forever Like The Sea,” in which Gray extols the virtues of a big city (“so many faces from so many places makes the city shine so right”).
With Gray raising a family and working full-time as an environmental consultant, it was many years before he could dedicate the time to make a full-length album. He then spent nearly three years recording and mixing the songs with his co-producer Ducky Carlisle, a veteran recording wizard who mixed Buddy Guy’s Grammy-winning 2010 release, Living Proof.
“It’s been worth the wait,” says Gray. “I’m really happy with the CD and I’m excited to be playing the songs live with a band of great musicians and friends.”