- Category: HEAVY ROTATION
- Written by Bill Hurley
This album reminds me of so many good things about music. This is, simply put, clean, melodic, extremely well written and performed pop music with a sharp rootsy edge. It reminds me of times when The Replacements, The Connells, The Old 97's and The Rave-Ups ruled my world. Truth be told I haven't heard anything this cool in quite a while...maybe since Mad Buffalo, last spring.
Rich McCulley has been around for a while, "The Grand Design" being his sixth solo effort. "The Grand Design" is by far the most impressive out of six impressive relases, showing great strides in songwriting and production. McCulley assembled the "L.A. Roots Hall of Fame" list of performers on this one, sparing few notables and including Taras Prodaniuk, Greg Boaz, Steve Mugalian, DJ Bonebreak, Brian Young among others. If you aren't sure, Google those names, they're the real deal. McCulley is a phenomenal player in his own right and can add to his credits, a damn fine producer.
The 12 original songs on "The Grand Design" ebb and flow like life itself. McCulley looks at the world through optimistic eyes and even when the situation is dark, McCulley writes plenty of natural light into the songs.
Standouts include "The Most Beautiful Thing" co-written by Todd Herfendal and Will Kimbrough. The most beautiful woman in the world passes you on the street and for that one brief moment, well, she is actually in your life. The she keeps walking. She's out of your life. No doubt a familiar story but much better when told over Beach Boys-like harmonies and guitars reminiscent of George Harrison.
The album's title track is an existential journey to the place where you come to peace with your own personal blip on the screen of life. There's been some hardship in recent years for Rich McCulley and "The Grand Design" is McCulley's way of exhaling and inhaling simultaneously. It's like that throughout this grand book of melodic poetry.
On "Coldwater Rain," McCulley finds and acknowledges "the one." That one we all hope to find. That one that changes our very being, peeling back the layers that expose who we truly are. That's not always a happy place but in Rich McCulley's world, this is a tip of the cap to his true love.
"...before you I was a child,
in a grown up world.
Then you showed me how to let my love unfurl.
...We can ride if you want to,
wherever you want to go.
We can roll, I will take you,
we can even take it slow."
McCulley is obviously an artist who's boots have seen the boards, the road and the gas pedal and his documentation of the journey and the destination is a moment to savor. Like a good movie you watch over again to see what you missed, this album reveals new and interesting twists with each listen. The playing and the production are so damn good you miss the lyrics at times.
"The Grand Design" is one of those albums that moves from work to pleasure for me. I hear hundreds of albums every month and write about many of them strictly from a professional point of view. Doubtful I will listen to many of them from a perspective that strays from that. Not this one, this one moves to the personal collection for pleasure and personal time...there with The Replacements, The Connells, The Del-Lords and The Old 97's. This album is all about the pleasure of music.
Listen and buy the music of Rich McCulley from AMAZON or iTunes