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Review: Grey Lamb – Find A Way
Posted July 12, 2016 by Greg Lindberg
WRITTEN BY
Greg Lindberg
ON
July 12, 2016
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Sometimes you find out about great music in your area, and you’re like, “How was this hiding from me.” As a massive fan of hip-hop, I’ll listen to anything the genre has to offer. In Lafayette, it’s always been pretty slim when it comes to rapping talent. That’s why I was so happy when I found Grey Lamb.

While listening to WAZY 96.5 in the morning, I heard a rap from Grey Lamb’s lead singer, David Zuccarelli, in the studio to promote their performance at the Taste of Tippecanoe. In the brief interview, David mentions being inspired by Mac Miller, Macklemore, and Tyler Joseph from Twenty One Pilots. That’s a lot of Mac, and maybe it’s the return of the mack as a younger generation leans towards a high production, laid-back atmosphere with a positive energy akin to early hip-hop.

What’s also impressive is that Grey Lamb is a unit. A real band. And not a nu-metal band, but a real hip-hop band. The other members include Eric Swanson on drums and Zane Johnson on keyboard. Though their hometown is Indianapolis, they’re currently defined as Purdue students who have participated in several local events. Their music is also on Spotify, and my mom always said that if you get on Spotify, “you’re as professional as fuck.”

One quick look on their Spotify page and you’ll see they have had two albums released in 2015 (ANIMALS and Bread & Water, respectively) as well as a fresh new EP, Find a Way. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. Also, Find a Way, is on MFT, so check it out here first, of course.

The EP starts with the same first verse that David rapped on the radio with the title track, “Find A Way.” It has the catchiness that feels like it was born a radio hit. Twenty One Pilots? Why isn’t Grey Lamb on tour with those guys anyways? The smooth production lets the band shine with a mix of R&B and funk. David’s flow is the biggest takeaway, which isn’t quick for quick’s sake, but intentionally decipherable and spit with heart. The confidence is felt from everyone involved, which helps to dodge any cliché bullets or cheese factor.

When I’m listening to new hip-hop, it’s always more challenging to listen to underground hip-hop with the right mix of confidence and humor and skill. It’s not like rock or punk where you can completely not give a shit or take yourself too seriously, easily getting away with it. My criteria may differ from yours, but you have to go beyond making my foot tap. Careful lyrics are important, and Grey Lamb take that precaution to deliver words through a vehicle of melodically energetic craft.

The second track “Neon” gives you more of that speed, closing in the gap between the bars like Twista was this dude’s dad. There’s more cursing throughout the track, but not in a way like, “That guy sounds young and awkward.” It’s all delicately displayed even in the chorus, “Everybody blind from the neon lights that try to shine / But don’t fuck with mine.” Speaking of delicate, the keyboard line in this track has some splendid, almost Japanese-inspired melody that adds the needed element to make it all come together.

“Only” is the longest track on the EP, and it starts out with a sample that sounds like Adele. The pitch shifts and it works to fulfill a more modern rap song, but the intended slow jam is still fast. David raps about going against the odds, and at this point that’s what you get about Grey Lamb – a hard-working team deserving of rising to the top. The effortlessness of David’s rhymes on “Only” almost make you forget this is a trio, but that’s not a slight to how the other members perform. It’s the group as the unit that makes it all sound unforced and enjoyable.

“Throat Coat” starts with lyrics, “Let me do what I’m supposed to,” and a chorus of vocal effects. At this point in the EP, the instrumentation gets dreamy, trippy and a little more sporadic. Just with all the other controlled chaos the EP provides, it’s still all very calm and relaxed. They have you hooked in at this point, and “Throat Coat” fits nicely in its placement, almost a breather track with the same vigor you've come to expect.

Once the album gets to “Slip,” I must say I’m just still happy such talent is here in Lafayette. Whether hip-hop or this type of rapping is not your cup of tea, the talent is undeniable. If I had any constructive thoughts, they do come during “Slip,” as there is reliance of popular production techniques that take you out of it a little. However, the drumming, keyboard parts and heartfelt lyrics are all solidly synchronous. I have no doubts that Grey Lamb will continue to push themselves as artists, taking risks and expanding on their experiences and values.

With the last track, “Hollow,” they lean that way already. I could imagine Childish Gambino rapping over this track. In fact, it reminds me of some promos I recently saw for Donald Glover’s new FX show. The freshness is there. The cleanness is there. But as tight as this last track is there’s a looseness. A brightness I love. Taking more of a pop approach, there’s an infectious synth line, crashing big beats and a sing-a-long chorus.

There really is nothing greater than seeing and hearing acts before they hit it big, and you definitely feel that with Grey Lamb. As glossy and fine-tuned as Find A Way is, their live shows make the music come alive even more. They take things to a whole new plane, and, if you get the chance, go see Grey Lamb tear up a stage near you. You won’t regret it. 

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