I don’t know how old the Arwen album is.
Not that it matters. A good album might take months, even years, to reveal its strengths. The trouble with reviews is that they are based on timeliness. A record can come out Tuesday and is reviewed by the weekend, based on a first impression, sometimes, or a few concentrated listens. This isn’t fair either to the reviewer or the album being reviewed.
An obvious example is The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street. When it was released nearly 50 years ago, it was dismissed as a sprawling mess. Now it’s regarded as The Stones’ masterpiece.
Ah, time. Ah, revision.
Is Arwen’s record a masterpiece? No, but, then again, it’s too early to tell.
I found out about it in the liner notes of Peter Lewis’s Just Like Jack, which itself is months old.
Lewis was a founding member of Moby Grape, still performing, writing and recording. His daughter is Arwen Lewis, whose Arwen album is 12 Moby Grape songs. Being a long term, diehard Moby Grape fan, I had to have it.
What songs would she do, how would she approach them?
Eight from the superlative debut, two from Wow, the second, and two from Moby Grape 69, the third.
Two by Skip Spence that bookend the Arwen record , two by Bob Mosley, four by the team of Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson, and four by Peter Lewis.
Nothing from the ensuing 50 years, which is too bad. Maybe that’s in the future. There might be some overlooked gems, that Arwen has found that will cause them to be appreciated in a new light.
As an introduction, she’s drawn from a great songbook.
Mostly, Arwen is faithful to the original versions, so there are no surprises there. Producer John DiNicola basically has followed a blueprint and the band, which at times includes Peter Lewis, sticks to the arrangements, the exception being Spence’s Indifference. Arwen seems to want to push the songs more than herself, but holds her own and is particularly good on her dad’s Someday and He.
Do I like it? Yeah, but these are Moby Grape songs. Is Arwen Lewis an artist? Who can tell from this? It provides a solid foundation upon which she can build. And that will take time.