February 17, 2003
Review by Bob MacKenzie
While it’s rarely a perfect fit, it’s usually not too hard to find a genre classification for an artist’s music. Some artists, however, are not so easy to pigeon-hole. GrooveLily is like that. The music is familiar. It feels like there should be a genre, but to find it is like chasing shadows through a mist. Try as you might, it eludes you.
The music is strong, well written and well performed. The lyrics are tight and interesting, each with a story to tell. Valerie Vigoda’s vocals are bright and interesting. And it all comes together smooth and effortless like a dance in a dream. It’s rock, sometimes not that soft. It’s full voiced pop. It’s driven by a jazz sensibility that flows through everything, but especially Vigoda’s vocals.
Back to that genre thing. If there were such a genre, imagine that in addition to GrooveLily it also includes such disparate groups as The Beatles, Abba, Blondie, and Heart, with a bit of Abby Lincoln or Roberta Flack thrown in for good measure. Imagine the music of that genre and you’ll have a pretty good idea what is the sound of GrooveLily.
Certainly, at some level, this music is built on a base of rock, but there are elements of Seventies pop, reggae, and jazz flowing through and over and creating a very finely crafted sound. With six members, this band creates a full sound that smaller bands can only hope to achieve. Although GrooveLily is New York City based, their sound reminds me a lot of music originating in western Europe, especially Scandinavia and Germany. It’s a sound that I personally enjoy very much.
As songwriters, and by this I mean lyricists especially, Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn excel. While there is a pop sensibility to most of these lyrics, there is also a certain depth to them, a fullness of story and image. Most are quite literate and at least one (“Captain of a Ship On Fire”) is literary, making clear allusions to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and first published in 1798.
Interestingly, the track I like best on this release is not written by Vigoda or Milburn but by Mick Jones of the band Foreigner. GrooveLily’s intelligent, near-hiphop interpretation of “I Want to Know What Love Is” should be riding high in the charts somewhere. But there’s that genre issue again. It it R&B? Is it Rock? Is it HipHop? Is it Pop? I don’t really care. It’s all of those and none of them. However, radio station programmers do care, and often if it can’t be categorized it won’t get airplay. This one is good enough that I hope it’s the exception to that rule.
The rest of the tracks on Little Light are at or close to the same quality. There’s not a track I wouldn’t be happy to hear more than once, on the radio or in my own home. GrooveLily has created a thing of beauty. All the members of this band should be proud of what they’ve made.
To learn more about GrooveLily, be sure to visit the band’s website at www.groovelily.com