Grey DeLisle
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Grey DeLisle

Band Americana Acoustic


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Grey DeLisle @ Festival Mundial

Tilburg, Not Applicable, Netherlands

Tilburg, Not Applicable, Netherlands

Grey DeLisle @ Perron 55

Venlo, Not Applicable, Netherlands

Venlo, Not Applicable, Netherlands

Grey DeLisle @ Vera

Groningen, Not Applicable, Netherlands

Groningen, Not Applicable, Netherlands

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You my be familiar with De Lisle's deceptively childlike whisper; she does voices for TV cartoons. But the traditionalist singer-songwriter packs a powerful, womanly ache into this collection of severe separation anxiety. To evoke that 1800s sound, Autoharp and music box fit prominently into the acoustic, home-recorded mix. Etheral and weighty all at once. - Los Angeles Daily

Grey DeLisle - She's the young singer of old gospel country music, living a dream of mountain ballads about wedding vows and bonnie girls drown'd at sea. (Her catch-phrase would seem to be "what would June Carter Cash do?") On "The Graceful Ghost" (Sugar Hill) Ms. DeLisle presents 12 of these old songs, except they're written by her. In addition to the standard acoustic guitars and stand-up basses, she uses autoharps, celestes, harmoniums and out-of-tune pianos. For one song, "Tell Me True," she has recorded her voice reading a Civil War soldier's love letter on a 1949 acetate recording machine. Ms. DeLisle isn't a stunning singer, but you have to marvel at the lengths she goes to in decorating her old, gothic American world. - The New York Times

New millennium trad country fans have been fortunate; there has been a slew of young women who have been turning in stellar recorded performances that draw on country music's roots-rich folk and gospel traditions. Grey Delisle from Los Angeles is the latest addition, but like fellow Angelino Gillian Welch, she comes at history in a different, almost antiquated way. With husband/producer/guitarist Murry Hammond (of Old 97's), stringed-instrument enigma Marvin Etzioni, and bassist Sheldon Gomberg, DeLisle crafts a chamber country gothic sound that feels like a mountain Flannery O'Connor writing for a young Dolly Parton in a string band for the Louvins fronted by a woman. Her songs, all of them, offer visions of romantic loss and longing, sin and redemption. The topics may be typical, but the performance is anything but. From the look on the front cover to the warm, reedy analog production to the songs themselves -- Delisle claims they are all about a then-long-distance engagement between herself and Hammond over phone lines from Nogales to Los Angeles -- there is nothing common, mundane, or biz as usual in this brutally tender set. The emotion here is quiet and purposeful, offered in starkness and recalling an America that communicated its heart directly with little adornment. This is country music out of space and time, reeking not one bit of revivalism or gimmick or artifice. This is a song cycle that is held fast with honesty and artistry, and there isn't a nod or a wink in the proceedings. Graceful Ghost is a very special album; it will appeal to anyone who has ever taken American traditional music seriously and will blow away anyone who has ever considered the craft in songwriting to be a lost art -- the Grail is here. - All Music Guide

There'll be many albums dedicated to the memory of Johnny and June Carter Cash. I suspect few will so faithfully capture the spirit and so lovingly reconfigure the sound of the Cashs' work as Grey DeLisle's album, The Graceful Ghost. The vocal similarities to Ms. Cash and to Dolly Parton are apparent, though DeLisle operates on a smaller scale than those two. Expressivity, rather than range, was arguably the key to her mentors' most successful performances; and she delivers that in lace and steel vocals both icons could easily welcome. Producer Marvin Etzione underscores her intensity, mixing traditional arrangements with modern recording technology and compromising neither. Designed as a figurative record of DeLisle's courtship by Murry Hammond, of The Old 97s, The Graceful Ghost is hardly Hallmark card material. Death and partings, endurance in the face of grinding misfortune...the songs' themes might suggest a wake rather than a wedding, were it not for power of love and faith that runs like a rejuvinating stream through this pitted landscape. From the musicbox windup that opens the disk to the off-center piano note that closes it, The Graceful Ghost is a carefully planned, meticulously crafted soundstage. It was recorded in DeLisle's living room, and that room is a palpable presence- framing the quartet sound of her voice and occasional autoharp, Hammond's guitar, Etzione's mandolin and Sheldon Gomberg's standup bass. The beauty of this group's chemistry is evident in the stark simplicity of "Walking In A Line" -where a mix of keening vocal, jagged guitar, slapped wood and bass pulse, wonderfully evoke menace in this song of backwoods fatalism. The coiled intimacy this group can achieve is perhaps best showcased in the Kitty Wells gem, "This White Circle On My Finger", where bass and guitar dance DeLisle's whispered vocal as to an audience of one - with a tale of pained loss. They prove equally confident in Mr. Cash's territory, riding his familiar rhythms on the proudly defiant "Sharecroppin' Man". There's a shape to this courtship collection. It's no coincidence that in the cycle's heart lies a series of vocal pairings for DeLisle and Hammond. Here, he's warm cushion to her angular ache, and these songs serve as the collection's shadowed bliss. Throughout, DeLisle reveals a true gift for old time song structures. The duets with Hammond and the album closer, "Pretty Little Dreamer", achieve a modern dagurreotype quality - without false sentiment, without irony, but with the full power of a vibrant tradition. It's hard to imagine this music and all its singular atmosphere translating totally to a stage much larger than its living room home. As a heartshaped recording though, it reimagines the parlor as world enough and time. - Click Magazine

"Whenever I sing, I feel like an actress in a great play; I try to get inside the character of each song and bring out as many emotional nuances as possible." So says singer/songwriter/renaissance woman Grey De Lisle, whose new album, Homewrecker (Hummin'bird Records), is filled with poignant songs of heartbreak, loss, and determination. The album – featuring De Lisle's rich, expansive voice and captivating, near-cinematic production by Marvin Etzioni – is reminiscent of country classics by Tammy Wynette, Bobbie Gentry, and Loretta Lynn, while retaining an eclectic, forward-thinking perspective all its own.

Born and raised in San Diego and of Mexican-Irish descent, De Lisle was immersed in music seemingly from birth. Grey's father was a truck-driving house painter who listened to country music legends like George Jones and Hank Williams, while her mother was in several struggling rock bands. De Lisle recalls, "My mom would take me with her to band practices, and if I was a good girl, they'd let me sing 'Delta Dawn' by Tanya Tucker." Grey's grandmother, Eva Flores Ruth, was a vocalist who sometimes sang with salsa legend Tito Puente; she even makes a cameo appearance at the end of Homewrecker's "Usted," a Latin standard that Ruth used to sing.

De Lisle wrote her first song, "Buckle Shoes," at age 5. "It was sort of a rip-off of (Roger Miller's) 'King of the Road' – my mother still has the lyric sheet!" While continuing to sing and write songs throughout her adolescence and early adulthood, Grey joined several bands along the way. Significantly, she also pursued a career in stand-up comedy. Her act – complete with dead-on voice impersonations – prompted an impressed friend to suggest that De Lisle supplement her income by auditioning for voice-overs. The result led Grey to a steady ascent towards her current status as one of the most respected and in-demand voice actresses in television and films. Her work can be seen and heard on many of the top-rated children's shows for networks like Nickelodeon and The Cartoon Network, including Rugrats, Powerpuff Girls, Scooby Doo, and The Flintstones.

Happily, De Lisle's success as a voice actress enables her to approach her musical career with her artistic integrity and independence intact, free from having to make aesthetic compromises. "My career in voice-acting means that I don't have to be dependent on a record label – or anyone else – for validation. I can make any kind of record I want without worrying about needing to come up with a 'hit single' or making a more 'commercial' type of album."

True to her roots, De Lisle has drawn upon the depth and honesty of classic country music as her most substantial musical influence. "Somehow, it seems that the sadder a song is, the happier I feel," she laughs. "The release of emotions that many would label as 'negative' is actually a liberating process for me." Much of the making of Homewrecker – from the conciseness of the album's 10-song length to the spare elegance of the album cover – has been carefully designed to recall the vintage '60s country albums that are prized by De Lisle. But Grey doesn't view the record as "retro" in the least. "When we made Homewrecker, we definitely wanted to acknowledge the influence of those great albums. But all of my favorite artists have a wide range of musical styles in their work, which made me want to showcase some other influences." The R&B-flavored "Dead Cat," the punk-influenced "The Hole", and the rockabilly-laced title track – featuring a searing mandolin solo by producer Etzioni – bear out Homewrecker's musical diversity.

De Lisle credits Etzioni's singular vision and tireless creativity for the album's cohesiveness and scope. "Marvin's simply amazing – I've never worked with someone so dedicated to making great music," she enthuses. "His wisdom, humor, and musicality are truly unique qualities, and I feel blessed to be working with him." Etzioni – a renowned producer who was the former bassist in legendary Los Angeles cowpunks Lone Justice – was introduced to De Lisle when her friend recommended a mandolin player for her debut album, the small time (released on Hummin'bird in 2000). He was enlisted at first to play on the album, but wound up co-producing it with Grey as well as establishing an enduring friendship with her. "Marvin's more than my producer – he's like a member of the family."

Homewrecker features a stellar cast of musicians selected by Etzioni and De Lisle, including pedal steel virtuoso Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow), keyboardists Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers), and noted string arranger Jerry Yester (Tom Waits, Tim Buckley). Another member of De Lisle's "family," Murry Hammond, figures prominently on Homewrecker – the bassist for heroes Old '97s is also De Lisle's husband. The two collaborated for one of the album's most affecting moments, the haunting duet " - Billboard Magazine

It's always a challenge to create a record that's heavily steeped in antediluvian influences, yet still manages to capture the imagination of listeners in the digital age. But that's what Grey De Lisle has succeeded in doing with this captivating album, her first for Sugar Hill. A San Diego-raised singer-songwriter best known (until now) for her Hollywood cartoon voiceovers, De Lisle used a small, tight-knit group of musicians while recording on analog equipment in her home studio. The minimalist arrangements frame her dulcet voice with old-timey instruments like autoharp, pedal harmonium, celeste, and piano. The result is a collection of gem-like originals (plus one obscure Kitty Wells cover) that capture the stark beauty and spirit of 19th-century love and disaster ballads in a way that has emotional currency and immediacy for contemporary listeners. -

I don’t think Grey Delisle would mind the tardiness of this review. I think she would actually prefer it. I think she would be perfectly content with The Graceful Ghost not being reviewed at all, but would favor it being dug up a century from now from a figurative time capsule lodged deep in the earth of the American south.

I don’t know how else to describe Delisle’s actions as an artist besides labeling them as astutely and wholly anachronistic. With no regard for current musical climates or general trends, she’s abstained from even giving her traditional mountain country tales a glossy finish or a “hot” “young” producer like a certain, no doubt influential, daughter of a coal miner.

Instead, at a time when the closest thing to a country music revival is the hick-bravado of “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and Tim McGraw collaborating with Nelly, Delisle channels the ghosts of Clinch Mountain, not only in storytelling spirit, but in recording techniques as well. Her friends and she have created an unabashed dusty country record straight from the porches of early settlement America.

With a voice like Dolly Parton and the lyrical vision of the spirit of Flannery O’Connor via Leonard Cohen, the voice of Delisle provides enough twists and turns to keep even those uninterested, or unimpressed with country music to perk an ear. Lovers of a good story will find an abundance of beauty and charm in her often dark, sometimes morbid, but always spine-shiveringly emotional vignettes of a bygone era.

The Graceful Ghost is seemingly thrown through an irony filter. There are no winks or hidden gestures in the music. Although Delisle is a native Los Angelesian and no stranger to the glamour of Hollywood (she’s one of the more prolific cartoon voiceover artists), she has an honest love for traditional, God-filled backwoods country music. Her attempt at recreating the porch-sitting sound of past is done out of a wholesome respect for the aura that emanates from the now anachronistic techniques and instruments of the genre.

Gothic southern tales abound, from the story of a wrongly declared dead soldier’s wife who is forced to wed her husband’s brother (“The Maple Tree”) to the funeral narrative for a young wife (“Walking in a Line”). Delisle knows the art of country storytelling, and doesn’t attempt to stretch or distort it, but represent it with a loving honesty.

There is a time for dancing, there is a time for deafening noise, and there is a time for head bobbing and a time for joyful pop. But there is also a time to lay back in candlelight and listen to a good story set to music. There’s a time when you’re driving through the planes of a predominantly rural state when melancholy characters in song are all you want to hear. You could scarcely do better this year than The Graceful Ghost. - STYLUS MAGAZINE

I first heard the exquisite voice of Grey De Lisle a year ago on a wonderful indie country release called Homewrecker, and I knew a bigger label would be noticing her. I just have to toot my own horn here, because I was telling my friends it'd be Vanguard or Sugar Hill, and by God, it's Sugar Hill. What do I win?
Well, apparently I don't win anything, but on the other hand I do get a hell of a CD to review and listen to over and over. De Lisle and husband Murray Hammond (Old 97's) make a great team. She writes the tunes and he brings just the right musical expression to them. She seems to have a real understanding of American folk history, as if she feels it and channel it through the songs. Where Homewrecker was so successful in creating a small town in the middle of modern nowhere, The Graceful Ghost seems to take us back to other times and places. The empyreal sounds of her voice and the lone acoustic guitar on several of the tracks are a powerful combination. The simplicity allows the songs themselves to have your full attention, and believe me, they stand up on their own. Sometimes with subject matter that'll leave you less than perky -- death in battle, death of parents, death of relationships... kind of a death motif -- but you won't be anything less than impressed and moved. Country music is starved for real country artists, and they've certainly found one in Grey De Lisle. - Cosmik Debris

The Graceful Ghost is an atmospheric album carried by beautifully quaint and quite haunting Grey De Lisle vocals. Her delicacy and timing in the delivery of each line together with a production that genuinely captures the essence of the marvellously evocative acoustic instruments like the banjolin, celeste, pedal and Indian harmonium that are employed here (all taped by engineer Todd Burke on some vintage recording equipment) recreates an old time almost pre-Civil War era sound whose nostalgic warmth is then applied to varied experiences from across the decades.
Consequently songs that warn of treacherous women (Jewel Of Abilene) or lecture against falling in love with an impoverished farmer (Sharecroppin’ Man) sit comfortably alongside a bittersweet ballad like ‘The Maple Tree’ that tells of the tragic consequences which occur when a mistakenly reported death is announced. The gospel country style on these laments for lost loves, gentle waltzes and lullabies taps directly into an American musical heritage. The care with which this numbered limited edition twelve-track collection has been put together cannot be questioned. In addition to the lovely song craft Graceful Ghost comes replete with a DVD about the making of the album, postcard, poster and a 45 cut of ‘Willie We Have Missed You’. - Hi-Fii

An avowed audiophile, Grey DeLisle recorded The Graceful Ghost, her Sugar Hill Records debut, in her living room, using every piece of antique equipment she could get her hands on. "We wanted to convey the feeling of being out on the porch making music," she explains. "Growing up, music was a big part of my family gatherings and I wanted to capture that family atmosphere ... sitting around in a circle, candles burning, very loose, just having fun. There's something that happens when you can see each other playing. You make eye contact, watch each other's hands, move to the rhythm. That doesn't happen when people do things in separate rooms."

The organic, elegant feel of the record evokes a simpler era and maintains the purity of expression that permeates DeLisle's music.

This package was created by award-winning Art Director/Designer Mathieu Bitton -


Iron Flowers - 2005 Sugar Hill Records
The Graceful Ghost - 2004 Sugar Hill Records
Home Wrecker - 2002 Hummin'bird Records
The Small Time - Hummin'bird Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


The term “old soul” is bandied about so casually these days that it has almost lost it’s meaning, but how else to describe Grey DeLisle? Her dynamic brand of Americana displays a preternatural connection to past eras as far flung as the Civil War, most recently on her critically hailed 2004 release The Graceful Ghost. Listeners and journalists alike marvel at her astute grasp of the essence of old-time country music that, at the same time never threatens to brand her an anachronism. Embracing different eras and different styles as readily and impeccably as she has, the only thing that fans have come to expect from a new Grey DeLisle album is the unexpected.
“I never want to make the same record twice,” DeLisle says. “I’m not interested in treading the same ground over and over again, even if it means people might get thrown for a loop on first listen.” Beginning with what she calls her “coffeehouse girl phase,” her self-released debut, The Small Time, was a far cry from her sophomore effort, Homewrecker. The latter was an irresistible mash note to the dramatic country chanteuses of the ’60s and early ’70s, and suited DeLisle’s strong, smoky alto perfectly. Fans were treated to another shock with her Sugar Hill Records debut The Graceful Ghost, replete with a turn-of-the-century vibe and dark themes of death, betrayal and redemption. DeLisle’s version of “Willie We Have Missed You” was also featured on the Grammy winner for “Best Traditional Folk Recording”—Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster.
With Iron Flowers, Grey DeLisle once again fulfills her promise of dynamism. Just because her signature instrument is the Autoharp, don’t expect the second coming of Mother Maybelle Carter this time around. One look at the interior album booklet art—by iconic photographer Mick Rock (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Blondie)—reminds us that the young DeLisle is an artist of her generation. And just to make the Appalachian-Glam fusion complete, her new release boasts a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” employing that trademark Autoharp in ways that nature never intended. Queen fans may make the connection that Mick Rock shot the infamous cover photo for the album Queen II.
From the revelatory “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover, to the dirty rockabilly of “Who Made You King” and the garage-Americana sound of “Blue Heart,” Iron Flowers turns out to be the most sonically and lyrically varied group of songs that DeLisle has ever put forth. And in fact, the eclecticism itself may be what proves to capture her essence as an artist. “It’s strange, but I think the chaos is what makes the most sense to me and says the most about me musically.”
One thing that DeLisle does not deviate from is her winning formula of producer and guest musicians. Marvin Etzioni is at the helm once again, proving that no matter what musical direction DeLisle decides to take, he always shares her vision. “He just gets me,” says DeLisle. Also on board is husband and collaborator, Murry Hammond of the Old 97’s. Rounding out the band is Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Paul McCartney), Don Heffington (Bob Dylan, Lone Justice, Victoria Williams), Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie Lee Jones, Five for Fighting) and Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, K.D. Lang). DeLisle says she simply made a “dream list” of people she would love to work with, and then went about the task of asking them to participate. For a relatively young upstart to take this approach with musicians of such stellar curriculum vitae speaks volumes about DeLisle’s guileless attitude toward the music business and toward life. “I just thought, What’s the worst that could happen, they say no? OK. But what if they say yes?”
Recording in a friend’s garage-cum-studio in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles, DeLisle remains true to her dedication to vintage analog equipment. Eschewing such modernities as ProTools and endless overdubs, the band recorded all performances live, often using the first take. DeLisle is no snob about her preference for an old-fashioned approach: “It just sounds better that way!” When she says “better,” what she means is more organic, more honest, not necessarily prettier or more perfect. Technical perfection seems a paltry goal compared to a raw emotional connection to the music, and Grey DeLisle is an artist who vies for the latter.
For those keeping score at home, DeLisle’s band does indeed feature two bass players (Hammond and Gomberg) and two drummers (Mattacks and Heffington). She says she wanted a big, full rhythm section sound for Iron Flowers and decided to go with double percussion and double bass on every track except “Sweet Little Bluebird” and “Blue Heart.” This is a distinct departure for the artist whose previous release had virtually no percussion at all! It’s just one more example of DeLisle’s constant desire to move forward and her disdain for musical stagnation. She says that when new fans ask after her live show, “Which CD should I get?” to b