concert reviews

Grey Eye Glances at Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA, Friday 9 April 2004

In another world, Grey Eye Glances would be all over mainstream radio. The band has the right ingredients: powerful voices (Jennifer Nobel sounds like Sarah McLachlan's long-lost sister), catchy songs and an obvious chemistry among the three founding members: Nobel, keyboardist Dwayne Keith and bassist Eric O'Dell. But they chose another path: When they were dropped from Mercury Records, they formed a partnership with fans to finance future albums on their own label, Sojourn Hills Records.

Friday night at Jammin' Java, that connection with their fans was evident as Keith joked with an audience member who shouted obscure requests throughout the night. During the encore, he indulged her requests, playing several bars of each song before segueing into their final number.

At times Paul Ramsey's drumming was overpowering, his crashing cymbals sounding out of place in the small coffee shop behind the folk-rock. But on "There," his soft shaky-egg complemented a chorus where Nobel, Keith and O'Dell sang a cappella in perfect three-part harmony. The new songs they introduced were received warmly, and they adapted old favorites like "Hard" and "Halfway Back" with a revised vocal melody to sound fresh and new.

The smiles shared among the four musicians confirmed that this small venue, with fans singing along quietly, was exactly where they wanted to be.

The opening acts, We're About Nine and Feathermerchants, were a good complement to Grey Eye Glances. Feathermerchants in particular charmed the crowd; the band's warm rock had just the right amount of energy for the space, and singer Shannon Kennedy's strong voice projected clearly as they covered the Psychedelic Furs' "Heartbreak Beat."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 12 April 2004
.: Selected discography: A Little Voodoo (Grey Eye Glances, 2002); Unarmed Against the Dark (Feathermerchants, 2003).