Forget everything you know about Grandaddy and remember everything you love about Wilco’s unfiltered songwriting and Death Cab For Cutie’s cozy production sensibilities. Grandaddy guitarist Jim Fairchild is prepared to step out of the shadows and transcend the legacy of his now-defunct former band.
All Smiles finds Fairchild leading on almost all fronts. For his debut album, Ten Readings Of A Warning, he wears all hats with the exception of the drum work, which was handled by a mix of folks, including the players from Modest Mouse, Menomena Sleater-Kinney and Great Northern.
In the indie scene, it would seem the number-one tactic to ensuring eventual and long-lasting success is to find yourself on the various “Best Albums of the Year” lists that permeate indie media each winter. While it’s only May in what is shaping up to be yet another busy year of much-anticipated releases, All Smiles’ premier effort gets an early “finalist” position in said lists.
The 11 tracks on Ten Readings never stray too far from home, opting to stay fairly close to the comfort of its piano, acoustic guitar and standard melody model. And while Fairchild’s instrumentation might toe a fairly straight line, he throws in enough hooks, fills and ambient bits to ensure Ten Readings doesn’t die a generic death.
Quite the contrary, the result is an even-tempered, consistent 38 minutes of nostalgic reflection — at times as atmospheric as Magnet (minus the over-the-top production); at other times as painfully beautiful as a Jeff Tweedy lyric without the utter despair. If Ten Readings is any indication of what’s to come from Fairchild, life after Grandaddy will indeed be just fine.