Kris Gruen’s fifth album “Welcome Farewell” displays a growing confidence and maturity.
Kris Gruen has drawn upon his experience as a poet and songwriter to create an album which explores his home, family making his personal explorations into songs that are universal in nature. Gruen has noted that this record is more collaborative in nature than some of his previous releases. He recorded ‘Welcome Farewell‘ with Randy Schrager, Rob Morse and Michael Flynn with production duties handled by Charles Newman. Gruen’s songs are autobiographical detailing his adventures, his experiences with his own family and with his father (who is a famous photographer who is well known for his portraits of musicians). He moved to Vermont where he has an organic farm but grew up in New York which allows him to reflect on both the natural world and his urban upbringing.
The music on ‘Welcome Farewell‘ reflect his surroundings with ‘Apple Tree‘ where he has written a gentle swaying song at times recalling Neil Young on his ‘Harvest‘ album setting the tone. The song ‘Nothing in the World’ is a catchy pop number where he sings about his late grandmother and her importance to him but which is universal in it’s message of hopefulness. ‘When she says‘ is a love song focusing on his life on the farm with his wife and the cyclical patterns of nature. The songs are about the passage of time, about things lost and gained with a focus on family life and nature and an overall positive message of enjoying your journey through life.
Gruen’s cover of the Johnny Thunders song provides a counterpoint to the overall positivity of the album. ‘You can’t put your arms around a memory’ is a beautiful emotive cover in which the sense of loss is given greater prominence than the original. Gruen’s style could be categorized as classic Americana but his songs utilize a variety of moods to create an album which is an enjoyable listen. Gruen’s skill is in making music which is easygoing and catchy on initial listen but provides something new on repeated outings.