by Daniel Kussy
Casimir Gruwel’s self-titled debut has come a long way. With tracks being written and released as far as 5 years ago, the relinquishing of such a body of work is a cathartic accomplishment for the Winnipeg singer-songwriter.
An artist who once served as a work horse dedicated to helping fulfill the visions of other artists, Casmir Gruwel was patient in fulfilling his own. His debut self-titled album maintains a consistently chill vibe that reverberates like the entire pallet of a Bob Ross painting. The opening track “Winter,” tells of a tale that could be etched within one of Ross’ paintings. Gruwel sings of the trials and tribulations of the brutal season over top a fingerstyle guitar and a rolling drum pattern.
On “Merit” the guitars float in a way that carries the song, even during vocal breaks the finger-style playing tastefully fills an unforeseen gap. The bridge introduces an overdrive heavy guitar, as if the cloud we’ve been floating on through evaporated beneath us, only to be caught by a Lord of the Rings characterization of an eagle. Before you know it, we find ourselves in the middle of a hair metal track. The loud guitar moments like these are otherwise dispersed across the album on tracks like the “Take Time,” a misty slow jam where the climax sees Gruwel, in sleight-of-hand fashion, pull a Slash influenced solo from out of his sleeves.
Tracks like “Silk” and “Paperbacks” are sonically relaxed, as if they were conceived on the fallen tree Gruwel has placed himself within a forest on the album cover. Gruwels voice is calming yet fruitful throughout the album, and his melodic vocal style shines on these tracks. The slide guitar on “Rocks” provides a glistening ambience to accompany Gruwels voice in lieu of a sun setting in said forest. As the album winds down on “Burning the Matchbox,” Gruwel sings as passionately as ever with backup harmonies during the bridge to lift him off his feet. Once the band is brought back into the mix, Gruwel begins to ascend.
For fans of: Dan Mangan, Jeff Buckley, John K Sampson