Artist of the week: John Grant

Artist of the week on Musikki – John Grant

John Grant is an American singer-songwriter from Parker Colorado, who began his career as the leader of The Czars, an alternative cult band formed in the 90s who delivered six beautifully crafted and critically praised albums before splitting in 2004.

After a six-year recording hiatus during which he found himself playing support for The Flaming Lips in some US shows, John Grant released with the help of some members of Texas folk-rockers Midlake his first solo effort in 2010. Queen of Denmark, a deeply personal record about his past struggles with addiction and his sexuality that ditched the dreamy shoegazing of his former band for an orchestrated and melodic soft rock style in the vein of 70s luminaries such as Jackson Brown, Clifford T. Ward and early Elton John, reached a rather surprising success and was selected as album of the year by the influential British magazine Mojo.

In 2012, during a performance with Hercules and Love Affair at the Meltdown Festival, he publicly acknowledged for the first time that he is HIV-positive. This pendent for serial and openhearted personal confessions would remain a paramount feature in his sophomore effort. 2013′s Pale Green Ghosts was a potent effort pretty much in the vein of this first record: the clean and focused production by Biggi Vieira (of Icelandic electronic pioneers Gus Gus) and abrasive 80′s electro approach were definitely novelties but always used in the benefit of his trademark baritone voice and undeniable talent for turning into pop gems his articulated penchant for personal bursts of anger and sadness.

After much anticipation, John Grant quietly released in October his third, and arguably best, solo record Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Adding some very needed funk and new wave stamina to his trademark electronics and orchestral arrangements, this is his most complex and paradoxically accessible album. Even if the lyrics feature too many name dropping, the approach to his autobiographical universe is mature, auto-critical and poignantly poetic. One of the most balanced, deep and fun records of 2015.

João Pedro da Costa

João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.