Full of impactful, insightful, image rich narratives reflecting the music and life journeys of lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Hollier, King Ropes’ Gravity and Friction rolls like a strangely amazing, sonically and lyrically eclectic Americana rock symphony.
Backed by a soulful artsy band that includes transcendent touches by his cellist son Sam and the occasional trombone and backing vocal colors of daughter Lucy, Hollier weaves his imaginative tales like a semi-involved observer, singing thoughtfully when he’s emotionally involved, then talk-singing more objectively almost like a news reporter on the scene.
Any artist who opens an album with a line like “Saint Peter left St. Louis in search of something better” (on the dreamy and droning, symphonic folk opener “Saint Peter”) merits extended attention, and Hollier gives us a lot to explore with a geographically fascinating back story that explains his musical wanderlust. He grew up in Montana (old school country and radio rock), hightailed it to NY (where he grooved on salsa and meringue, Dwight Yoakum and early rap and started DJ’ing and playing music underground), then later moved back out west to form King Ropes.
The name came from a western tack store in Wyoming – and offers a bridge from his wild days rockin rootsy and garage and psychedelic style in NYC with his organic roots. True to its title, Gravity and Friction is a celebration of the vibes that keep Hollier and his group tied to his raw beginnings and the glorious tension (and ultimate, somehow harmonious union) of the many styles the muse has brought him over the years. One of the best examples of Hollier’s blend of deep philosophy, crafty storytelling (sung and spoken) and musical whimsy is the hypnotic fuzzy pop/rocker “California Stars,” which uses several characters to illuminate “all the wrong turns that finally brought her here” and the reality that “I can’t shake the feeling that I’m running out of time.”
Hollier’s unusual impulses take King Ropes in many coolly strange directions – dirges, psychedelic, experimental, swampy psychobilly, you name it – but his heart is true and the rewards are plenty for those willing to go along for the twangy, dusty, grungy, dirty, distorted and often dreamily melodic ride.