After making a name for himself in 2014 with his move to London, Danny Gruff has seemingly been a one stop build of success and quality, with an array of back catalogue soothing sounds behind him; Gruff has returned with his debut, self titled record.
The difference between this album Gruff's earlier material is almost instantly recognisable, not just in the production but the fundamental style in which he writes on this album. Gruff’s sound is much more fulfilled on this release, with multi-track harmonies filling the vacuum he creates in the intro to 'Tightrope' and electric organs generating an infectious level of movement.
That’s the thing that is most apparent about this album - not the use of dynamics as is par the course with singer/songwriters but the use of everything. Electric guitar riffs echoing catchy melodies underpinned with percussive chimes on 'Comfortable' that effortlessly generate movement. It’s moments like this that make Danny Gruff more than just a singer/songwriter album, it’s a singer/songwriter album you can dance to.
'We Got This' is the lead single from the album and probably the track that will be most familiar to fans of his earlier material. Comprised of the sort of happy-go-lucky acoustic guitar riffs and cautiously optimistic lyrics that resonate with the album’s underlying theme as a whole.
The diversity on this record shines through most on 'Pieces' with ever present vocal FX, synthetic beats, and a wide ranging mix of guitar, keys, synths and much more giving way to a brooding and moodier sound, especially in contrast with the rest of the record.
'Coffee Beans' is the shortest track on the record by some margin as well as the most stripped back on the album. Anchored around a light hearted rhythmic acoustic guitar it speaks of a time beyond bitterness, only acceptance, and it’s that sort of perseverance that makes Gruff the artist he is, consistent, endearing and catchy.
The album’s closer 'Last Man Standing' is a song that has made it into Gruff's live-set often over the years, it has come quite some way since then standing as almost a polar opposite to the stripped back rendition that most would be familiar with. The keys and strings add a whole new element of drama to the chorus, the bridge, the whole ensemble, and frankly it’s a wonderful addition to a song that was already tight in all the right places.
Overall Gruff’s self titled debut does its job well, a brief look back at his roots blended with what is a clear direction - catchy, structured pop rock with no stone unturned or idea left untried.
Review by Paul Simmonds