Liam Grant - Amoskeag
The dedication on the back of Amoskeag reads, “For those who can no longer tell the old stories.” It suggests an attitude towards the past that manifests on each of the album’s six tunes. If Liam Grant had something to say about mid-20th century literary criticism, he might suggest that you take your copy of The Anxiety Of Influence and use it to stop a door that needs to stay open. He’s not paralyzed by the notion that all of the good ideas have already been stated. No, works of the past animate him, and he’s keen to return them the favor.
Amoskeag offers raga-inspired fantasias and old time-steeped invitations to kick up your hoofs, balancing winding reverie with convivial celebration. Which is not to say that Grant is a strict revivalist. Admittedly, Grant’s antecedents are easy to name. If you have spent some time tuned into the Takoma School guitar resurgence of the aughts, you’ll know that he’s working with a tumbler full of Jack Rose poured over the rocks of Glenn Jones, with some of their inspirations and successors stirred in to make a brew that is pungent, familiar and satisfying. The opener, “Stratton-Eustis,” has the same light out for parts unknown vibe as “Cross The North Fork,” and “Last Night On Dead River” sounds like a half-remembered rendition of “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” laid over “Sundogs.”
Not only does Amoskeag echo the sounds that Jack Rose drew from wood and wire, half the LP features the playing of Mike Gangloff, who played with Rose in Pelt and Black Twig Pickers. But Rose is over a decade gone, and there’s still a big hole that needs filling, so if Grant does that job for a while, let’s just say that he does a good job. And since he’s in his early 20s, it’s possible that the what he sounds like now is not where he’ll end up; consider how far Cian Nugent and Daniel Bachman have traveled from their first efforts. He might find some more personal stories of his own to add to the ones he recounts so well.