The Grand Undoing (Bostonian Seth Goodman’s musical alias) wants you to look a little closer. At first glance, his new album is a traditional collection of rock songs, with a sprinkle of other genres here and there. A collection of songs about love, loss, and the heartbreak that comes with it. Take another look, even the title will give you a clue: Sparks Rain Down from the Light of Love. Of course this brings to mind the romantic image of a lover’s embrace: sparks fly at the moment of the kiss. But sparks are also flammable, the same sparks that symbolise passion can also be used to burn everything down, and as The Grand Undoing, Goodman is all too aware of this.
Take the albums lead single, Most of All We Just Go Around- a jazzy rocker about the mistakes we make over and over again following the most dangerous emotion: love, “We get high/ we get low/ but most of all we just go around” describes both the pitfalls and the exhilaration of doing it all over again in one short chorus.
The trick is then repeated as Goodman takes on a different theme on Living in Amber, a song about life grinding to a halt, and trying to romanticize it through the golden glow of the amber. He knows the fallacy of standing still, and the feeling of being trapped outside of things which it conjures.
At the heart of Sparks Rain Down from the Light of Love is a collection of ten short stories set to music. With each song Goodman sets the scene for each new tale: in Falling From a Plane he introduces us to a room with “terracotta strewn across the tile”, each track drawing the listener in. Each song, while sharing the same components (rackety guitar, shrewdly deployed strings, Goodman’s unique vocals) have a distinct personality. The title track begins with a grand string arrangement before an almost R&B drumbeat transitions the song into a traditional rock anthem. Opener Sing Yourself Home, and Let the Big Ball Go make use of some Jimmy Page style power guitar , with the former introducing it in the songs outro which works a lot better than it has any right too, and in the latter to add strength to Goodman’s delightfully petulant vocals.
The albums best song, Key Biscayne, highlights Goodman’s mash-up of different musical eras. The opening guitar and keyboards, sound eerily like The Cure on Seventeen Seconds, which, somehow, seamlessly transitions into the kind of chorus reminiscent of 60’s pop, ending on a languid piano, and strings which brings to mind The National. The fact that Goodman makes all of this sound compl3etely natural on a song that isn’t even three minutes long is a triumph.
Sparks Rain Down from the Light of Love is the sophomore album that every artist dreams of. Goodman has improved as a singer, musician, and songwriter, and is essential listening for any music fan. It comes out 30th September 2016.