Project Grand Slam is Back With New Album
Casually rising from the silence like a moderate spring breeze out of the darkness of the early morning, “I’m So Glad” slowly but surely wins our affection with its heady sonic introduction and the eventual catharsis of its main melody. Much like the other songs found on Project Grand Slam’s It’s Alive!, this track is presented with a renewed sense of surrealism on the part of this noted act fronted by the legendary Robert Miller, and it couldn’t be arriving at a more appropriate point in the history of popular music. Amid all of the talk about synthetics and insulated pop music in 2023, It’s Alive! lives up to its title and inspires a bit of vitality in the middle of a strange era of emerging live artistry.
I love the harmonies that comprise the backbone of “Aches and Pains,” the almost English fusion of “The Queen’s Carnival,” and the brilliantly multilayered “Yeah Yeah.” The chemistry between the players in PGS is evident even at a distance, but if you listen closely enough to any one of these songs, there’s a seamlessness in the vocal and instrumental faceting that makes it difficult to tell where one band of tonality is starting and another is ending. It makes tracks like “I’m Falling off of the World” all the more endearing, and others like “The One I’m Not Supposed to See” all the more structurally provocative.
One of the best attributes that Project Grand Slam have going for them is their compelling juxtaposition of whole optimism and a fleeting sense of retrospection, and in “No No No,” “I Can’t Explain,” and “Lament” specifically, this element is exploited for everything it’s worth and then some. Through poetry and instrumental fabric the same, this act tells us the story of introspection as it occurs upon meeting the groove for the first time, and comparative to the general narrative being presented on social media and the nightly news, a concert LP like It’s Alive! is probably among the healthiest content you could absorb right now.
You don’t need a lot of volume to feel the textural component to “Redemption Road,” “I’m Falling off of the World,” “Fire,” or “The Queen’s Carnival;” its sheer muscularity alone is enough to define both the genre and style of the music in this record. Although not their most stripped-down effort, It’s Alive! is another fusion wonder for PGS, albeit an aesthetical experiment in more than one category. All in all, long-term followers of Robert Miller needn’t fret – this LP is hardly a departure from his signature sound.
I was expecting a lot out of the new record from Project Grand Slam, but even with my standards being as high as they are, I was amazed at how cohesive and colorful every stitch of its material is. It’s Alive! is a light in the dark for serious jazz fans this April, and though it’s not the mainstream pop sound some prefer, it’s as unique a work of art as I could ask for. PGS hits another home run here, and I won’t be the only fan who thinks so.