Gravy announce a new sound, a new vibe, on this stellar recent release with blissful authority right from the start: The filthy old-school funk groove of opening track “Uptown Getdown” explodes into a masterful digital mix right as lyrical imagery of Carnival, love and “lonely grey days” begins. Next, the uptempo, sun-is-shining pop of “looking for fun” in “I Should Be the One” is bouncy and infectious in the mold of groovy-soul stalwarts Jamiroquai—a far cry from the blues-based guitar-driven rock that has defined the quartet since its 2004 inception. Gravy’s maturation comes perhaps best explained in a promo video (check YouTube) for Get Busy Living via interviews with producers, Galactic’s Robert Mercurio and Ben Ellman. Interspersed with clips from Gravy’s rowdy shows, Mercurio acknowledges the 11-song album’s “emotional sensibility” while Ellman says it’s a strength “having the openness to change your sound, explore the studio, paint a different kind of picture from what you do live.”
This praise from the intrepid producers helps explain the switch to primarily keyboardist Chris DiBenedetto’s upper-octave vocals, harmonious and captivating throughout, with his hypnotic oozing of the 88s propelled atop buoyant rhythms courtesy of Aaron Walker (drums) and Marcus Burrell (bass/vocals). Guitarist Stephen Kelly unleashes a raging riff to reveal the blistering blend of rock at Gravy’s core for the intro to “Hear You Say,” a tune returning him to his familiar lead vocal spot. Kelly delivers a delicately smooth solo at the bridge in “Gone Blind” before the “we live in a subliminal daydream” vocal refrain. Dreamy sonic waves drive “Ribbon,” future dub flourishes on “Includes,” while the poetic party-girl lament of “Fifty Cent Ways” reflects an urgent emotional ethos—“get busy living, or get busy dying”—that informs this powerful, yet party-friendly, album.