There have been attempts in some quarters to pigeonhole Aidan Connell as a blues singer (something he tackles on Everybody Else here), but there’s so much more to his debut album than that. In fact, the most traditionally blues song hereis the stripped-back, loping, soul-baring Fell On Black Days. It isn’t a Soundgarden cover, but if it had been, it wouldn’t have been out of place, because Grio has a grungy, alt.rock twist that breaks down genre boundaries. Connell’s voice is wonderful – warm but dark, and often sounding remarkably like Mark Lanegan, particularly on Requiem For Love and wry rocker Bleeding Me Dry. Paired with his timeless songwriting, this record suggests that he’s in it for the long haul, neatly sidestepping current trends and making a unique space for himself.
There’s a bite to his writing too. The Jesus And Mary Chain got in there first with I Hate Rock ’N’ Roll as a song title, but Connell’s drips with disdain for style-over-substance bands who cherish clichéd rock-star decadence over innovation.
These songs worm their way into your soul, finely crafted but oozing with personality, and combining to make for a very special debut.