The opening track of Ethan Gruska’s Slowmotionary starts with “I’m travelling through the valley / my whole childhood is here” – a song of childhood memories and early heartbreak, and of history repeating itself. It’s the perfect introduction to this storytelling album. A house and shed lit by one single bright light surrounded by complete darkness adorns the cover – perhaps a family home, or the destination of a long trip through the American countryside, fuelled by stories and a longing to be home.
Gruska’s voice is emotional and touching, yet gets too much on an album that is completely built around this voice, only backed by piano or acoustic guitar. Words are often elongated, as if to attach a deeper meaning or hidden significance to each track although nothing in the lyrics suggests this. Songs where this repeating experience is broken thus stand out, such as the more upbeat and exciting ‘Reoccurring Dream’, and ‘Grand Lies’. In the latter, piano tunes over muffled café sounds surround only a few sentences: ““I may never understand / All the beauty of the world / The way time passes up by / All of the grand lies / Your loving eyes always withholding”.
Ethan Gruska’s solo debut would be great to play in the melancholic last hours of a road trip, when no-one is awake enough to talk more but still wants to savour the experience of driving through the night together. An extremely personal album, yet most songs sound too much the same to really make an impression.