Gordy Garris, Jr. learned the hard way, feeling his way through a thicket of popsters from Andy Reed, the Legal Matters, Chris Zehnder and Donny Brown. They own the crown of creation in the backwoods of the Great Lakes Bay Region even when people are not listening closely. This writer has heard the word and bows down to the great wealth of music in our own backyards. Andy Reed is an icon to me and his productions are incredibly intricate. The delicate soundscape he creates is right on par with Alex Chilton, Big Star and the early power pop of The Frost, an incredibly gifted band that included Dick Wagner, Donny Hartman, Gordy Garris, and Bobby Rigg. As fate would have it Gordy Garris Jr. has inherited his father’s gift for music, harmony and lyricism. This document is a testament to the abiding craft that has emerged in the hills and valleys of Bay City, Midland and Saginaw.
Let me in is a great opener. “It’s you – you will let me in”. Garris has a fine tenor that can reach the high notes without any squawk and strain. The drum brings in a subtle backbeat, followed with electric guitar, bass, piano, and Maiya Kauffman’s understated violin. Nice Riff. Garris intones “No one there to save you now, just to find your way.” This is a song of recovery and hope. The message is powerful. “When your dreams all fail and you lost your way, don’t give up on your dreams”.
Good times open with a reggae beat and a throbbing bass guitar the singer becomes the song and his lyrical scripts convey hope even when it is painful. “If you waste your life thinking then you’ll miss out on the good times. Don’t miss out”.
In all that I want – Moving faster than the speed of light but you can’t catch her. She’s out of sight; she’s all that I want. Garris is in a funky Jones. He’s got it bad. The drummer provides a vocal counterpoint; creates a colorful landscape with Reeds red hot guitar clips. Nobody’s there opens with what sounds like a church organ or a piano and violin. It has an eloquence that is captivating; “Through the mist I saw nothing at all until I saw you standing there. You’ve come along way – just to say – I’ll be there for you'. Garris has a sweet tenor and he sings like a bird. He’s grown in Leaps and Bounds as a singer/song writer. Andy Reed is hovering over it all, his engineering is fabulous. He positions the bass guitar for a thumping good bottom with a cool synth/guitar workout.
Stole my heart. Gordy’s piano trill is spare and tight; it gives Garris’ vocal space to breathe. I wrote the song for you and it’s the only thing I can do to let you know, know the truth you stole my heart. Garris’ tenor is strong and evocative. Garris piano and Maiya Kaufmann’s violin gives it substance and a major chord ambiance.
Move me has an acapella intro. “Give won’t give in.” Acoustic strum is followed by tight drums and vocal aside, “The way you move me, the way you feel me.” His wondrous vocals are up front, he’s loose and ready to riff. Reeds command of the vocal harmonies is exquisite, incredible.
Space – Scratch picking opens the song. It has a heavy bottom with a cool electric phantasm that leads to a heavy metal power pop eye opener. There is a nice E-string workout in the middle. Dick Wagner must be smiling up in those clouds. Garris goes environmental like Al Gore on an iceberg that’s melting. He’s worried about this crazy life. He surrounds me. Can’t you see (sings), what’s become of me?”
Wasted Man starts with a riff that sounds like Carlos Santana praying to the Heavens. Reed sings counterpoint to Garris and builds the harmonies with tremolo guitar accents and Kaufman’s wall of sound violin is exquisite, brilliant.
Remember me; Garris opens with acoustic strumming and vocal harmonies with Reed. Garris recalls a past courtship that didn’t work out. Tears were over the memories. He won’t give in but he’s sitting on the fence. It doesn’t bode well. His tears were about fading memories. He does not want to give-in though he’s sitting on the fence afraid the egg will crack. It doesn’t bode well.
Out of my mind Garris opens the song with electric guitar and a cool acoustic workout. The blended harmonies are exquisite. The drummer does a powerful double time riff like Mick Fleetwood pounding out the beat on Green Manalishi. There’s anger in the vocal. It’s about a failed relationship. Garris sings, “I must be out of my mind”.
Believe me. Sweet Piano trills and softened bass bring the song into context. The singer’s righteous tenor scaffolds the musical landscape of young love. Garris sings his heart out, “Don’t ever give up on me no matter what you do, I won’t give up on you”.
Gordy Garris, Jr has written great material that fits perfectly in this saga of love and loss . His singing is powerful. His tenor is strong. His writing is accomplished. He was able to build lyrical castles in each moment of this incredible song cycle. Garris is on his way up!