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Love is Strong as Death ‘ Justin Grounds

BY CHRIS PEKEN

Quirky as this English Justin is, he is not my all-time favorite Justin, that honour belongs to Mr Justin Case. Nevertheless Justin Grounds, wearer of old suits, multi-instrumentalist, and occasional existentialist is a man who treads his own paths and deserves due respect for that alone. Love is as Strong as Death is the result of a solitary artist, tape loop beats, samples wine glasses and sparse atmospheric pieces share space with a voice that, try as it may, can’t escape its quintessential pop beauty. You would be right if at this moment you were beginning to conjure thoughts of one Thom Yorke; although without the constrains of a band format, Mr Grounds is able to explore a more diverse instrumentation that includes violin, banjo, clarinet, cello, French horn, tabla and aforementioned electronic noodling. Yes there are the dark existential moment like Oceans and Stones: ‘Sometimes is all too much to hold / Sometimes the words have all been spoken / Sometimes it nestles in your chest / Sometimes its all been poured out long ago’ but these moments also tend to be the albums most tender, honest and beautiful. When Grounds takes his own advice: ‘It’s time to spread your wings and fly’ on the albums highlight Earth is a Woman, the result is a splendiferous thing to behold ‘ for he truly has a majestic command of restraint that makes the release all the more euphoric. These tracks alone make this album worth owning.

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