Hip-hop artist Grieves’ released his latest full length studio effort early this spring. The album, Winter & The Wolves is just as good a listen for fans more familiar with Grieves’ sound as those that are less familiar with this music. This latest release from the Seattle-based rapper is a moving and emotionally powerful work with its stories of broken relationships and a decidedly rough childhood among others. While such themes make it easy to compare Grieves to the likes of perhaps Eminem, Grieves sets himself easily apart from Mr. Mathers stylistically throughout the course of the record’s dozen total tracks. One example of that difference comes almost halfway through the album in ‘Breath of Air.’ Grieves writes of life’s difficult situations and their emotional impacts in this song. Both his musical and lyrical approach to the song is largely genuine and will certainly see it become a fan favorite. That genuine approach is evident in the album’s lead tracks ‘Rain Damage’ and ‘Whoa is Me,’ too. These two tracks are the album’s most upbeat pieces despite their lyrical bite. The mix of that bite and upbeat musical side make them the perfect introduction for this album. They make the album’s title even more fitting, considering that sharpness of sorts about them. And alongside the likes of ‘Breath of Air’ and the albums other songs, they prove to be part of a whole that fans new and old alike will appreciate with each listen.
Grieves has set himself apart from so many of his counterparts in the rap industry once again on his latest album. While the songs themselves might be similar thematically speaking to works from other rap artists, his overall stylistic approach to his songs most definitely sets him apart. One key example of that originality comes almost halfway through the album in the form of ‘Breath of Air.’ This deeply moving song comes across as Grieves writing about the emotional impact of life’s more difficult situations on himself. He writes in this song, “As simple as I am/I got a puzzle for a heart/Laid it on the table in the living room/Rummaged through the parts/The child in me is runnin’ through the dark/But the man that I’m supposed to be/Is searchin’ for a breath in this cigar smoke chokin’/Dryin’ on my eyes/Like the desert wind/Drunk/Takin’ shots at the moon/With an empty pair…Go figure/Life’s been a freak show/Learn to hold a knife at a young age/And bleed so/Following the keystrokes/Leadin’ to my words/Is a trail most/Traveled by a part of me/That you would label disturbed/But it works/Living with the plague/Marching to the beat of my bones/getting thrown into the/Lake…If I could find a better way to make you see what I’ve been thinking/I’d probably just paint a stupid picture/They say it’s worth a thousand words.” These are some pretty thought provoking passages. And the use of the piano as the song’s main musical backing adds to the power of those words. It’s so simple in the use of just a few chords. Set that against the song’s solid beat and audiences quickly see just how original Grieves is as compared to so much of what fills the rap realm today. It’s just one example of what makes this album well worth the listen by any rap fan, too. The album’s lead tracks are just as great as this piece in exhibiting his creativity and originality.
Grieves offers audiences more emotional depth and substance into his latest release than can possibly be noted in a single review. ‘Breath of Air’ is just one of the many deeply moving songs included in the album’s sequencing. He exhibits just as much emotion in the album’s opener, ‘Rain Damange.’ This song shows its own emotion, but in a manner different from that of ‘Breath of Air.’ Grieves exhibits some more attitude in this song, writing, “The gap toothed rapper is back/With a bag full of dynamite strapped to my back/Rhymesayers/Put the logo on the back/If ever you were looking/Now you know where I’m at.” He’s joined by collaborator Benjamin Lewis on this track, who introduces himself with just as much attitude, stating, “Name’s Benjamin/Same as I ever been/Sippin’ on a glass of ice cold Templeton/Cloud city/Rain water on the brim/Runnin’ with my back against the wind.” The old school DJ work backing this re-introduction for Grieves adds all the necessary flavor to the song to make it an instant hit among audiences. Things don’t stop here, either as audiences will hear on the album’s second song, ‘Whoa is Me.’
‘Whoa is Me’ is one more example of just how much Grieves has to offer his audiences on his new album. This song is perhaps stylistically the closest that Grieves comes to being anything like Eminem. The call and response of sorts used in this song is something that Eminem is known for using in his records. He writes in an almost tongue-in-cheek fashion here, “My dog died/When you were 6/Really/I guess I’ve never gotten over it/Dark cloud constantly hovering over me/I’ve been a bad seed ever since the ovaries/Momma looked at me/And told me what it was/Said boys got a shadow big enough to block the sun/But it’s all said and done/I’m comfortable and numb/To the fact that I’m constantly sweatin’ under the gun/But it’s worth it/Ain’t it/My friends think I’m famous/My manager wants to put his foot inside of my anus/Haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep now in ages/And all I got to show is empty loose leaf pages/It piles up but that’s the life that I’m used to/Pressin’ up against the knife with a loose screw/Sing the blues and everybody assumes you could use a little old fashioned down home talking to.” The song’s lyrical side presents more of a frustrated feeling than the depressed emotion expressed in ‘Breath of Air.’ But at the same time, that little call and response of sorts that is also used in the song’s second verse hints at the subject trying to not let everything get him down. The whole of that call and response alongside the song’s musical side and lyrical bite exhibits such sensibility from Grieves. It also exhibits quite a bit of talent once again on the part of Grieves just as with the songs on his previous albums. Whether it be this song, those previously mentioned or those not mentioned, every song included in Winter & The Wolves is itself part of a whole that any hip-hop and rap fan will enjoy.
Winter & The Wolves is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered directly via Grieves’ Facebook page and via the Fifth Element store at http://www.facebook.com/Grievesmusic and http://fifthelementonline.com/collections/grieves/products/grieves-winter-the-wolves. Grieves is currently touring in support of his new album and will perform live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina next Monday, July 28th at Local 506. Tickets for the show can be purchased online at http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/537299. Fans can keep up with Grieves’ latest tour updates, news and more online via his official Facebook page and his official website, http://www.grievesmusic.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.