Grant Glad “One Man’s Story”

Quit Your Day Job Records, 2024

Artwork for Grant Glad album "One Man's Story"

A concept album from a fine teller of stories, this will hold your interest from start to finish.

Artwork for Grant Glad album "One Man's Story"Grant Glad has been around the Minnesota music scene for some time; most notably as frontman for the band The Soo Line Loons. Glad’s musical influences have been cited as John Prine, Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Bob Dylan and Jason Isbell, so it’s unsurprising that the songs here have storytelling at their heart.

One Man’s Story‘ is a concept album (but don’t let that put you off), which tells stories of ‘everyday Midwestern man’s life’. Glad’s intention was to create a record that read like a novel, influenced by John Steinbeck, the acclaimed American novelist (‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’); the creative process began in late 2020, taking three years to complete. The idea for the record came about after the song ‘Dancing at the VFW‘ (VFW is Veterans of Foreign Wars, a US war veterans service organisation) first saw the light of day in 2019, featuring on ‘A Place No One Belongs‘ by Grant Glad & The Soo Line Loons. This song appears here too and, although it’s the final track, it’s central to the entire LP. Glad saw potential in the central character from this song and wanted to explore and develop the story.

The songs in sequence outline different stages of life for the central character; from teenage years, through the twenties, joining the army then subsequently struggling to make ends meet financially, falling in love and starting a family, and finally later years and the death of his wife.

Gunpowder at Dawn‘ depicts a 13 year old boy attending his first deer camp, nervous yet excited to be learning new things and spending time with older generations; it’s a right of passage towards becoming a man. ‘When it’s Gonna End‘ is a duet between Glad and Laurel Mary, it’s a dialogue between the two central characters “What are you thinking about now?“, “I can’t wait to leave of this town”, “People say that all the time and all they ever do is stay”.

At Ease‘ concerns joining the army; the character cites false promises from army recruiters and laments the way friends appear to have changed while he’s been away, but pondering that perhaps it is he who has changed “Maybe the only thing that’s different here is me”. ‘On the Ropes‘ is about is struggling to make ends meet after leaving the army “I’m not between jobs, no I’m not, I’m just in between paychecks all the damn time”.

The Night Before Thanksgiving‘ is mostly spoken, over electric piano and violin. Our character is again unhappy, preparing for Thanksgiving celebrations; “The purgatory of late autumn mixed well with this dull Minnesota town, the drinks I didn’t need, and the people coming home that I wasn’t prepared to see”. Later he bumps into the girl who featured in ‘When it’s Gonna End‘ (again featuring the vocal of Mary); they are in the same town. “Asked how long I’ll be staying in town, and something in her voice told me she knew I never made it out”. ‘Morningside‘ is about falling in love and ‘Getting on Fine‘, featuring the vocal of Sarah Morris, explores family life and wondering where the magic went, amongst the routine of work and looking after kids.

Finally, as time moves on, the characters are getting older and the poignant ‘Dancing at the VFW‘ begins by looking back “I gave 4 years to the army, when Uncle Sam Called my name, And 40 more, to the railroad, along with my left knee, But every Friday I saved for you, And we’d go dancing at the VFW”. Describing the one night in the week when nothing else mattered but the music and dancing, until old age takes one of the partnership; life comes to an end and the song includes snatches of ‘Amazing Grace‘ (again featuring Morris). An emotional ending to the story.

This is an album full of well-written songs; the storytelling makes the characters believable and the instrumentation and melodies add to a satisfying, if at times emotionally draining, listen.


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