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Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Album Review: Doors Wide Open

06 May 2018 // A review by Jacquie Walters

Doors Wide Open is an album of “sweet sorrow” from Bernie Griffen and the Thin Men

Griffen is a musician who has paid his dues and travelled the miles. As he sings, “I’ve been this way before, I know my way around”. There’s grit and experience at the heart of Doors Wide Open. Both the music created and shared here and the life that has been lived that informs it command respect.

This is the first album Griffen and Warner have recorded together, and it is a musical waltz that echoes their track The Wedding Song. The depth of Griffen and Warner’s relationship lends an integrity and authenticity to the musical landscape the couple have created together and will no doubt share with audiences as they tour this album.

The album is blessed with the talents of producer and violinist Luke Plumb whose contribution enhances, burnishes, and elevates Griffith’s material.

The shining moments on Doors Wide Open are when the vocals of Griffen and life partner Kirsten Warner combine, such as on Maria. Neither Griffen nor Warner are strong vocalists, and that does detract from the listening experience at times, but the melodic fragility of the combination of their voices is beautiful and evocative.

I particularly enjoyed The Truck Song, which is a rockier track than those that precede it. Sweet Obsession was another highlight. “All those men and lies. Ah but it’s such a sweet obsession. All those men and lies.” 

The title track asks for affirmation; “And if I poured all of my love into your heart, I hope it’s good enough. And I’ll be standing in the road, doors wide open”. I believe that fans of Griffen’s music will answer the call and greet this album with a warm embrace.

Listen to this one a few times – its riches emerge more fully when given space to breathe.

★★★ (3 stars)


Review written by Jacquie Walters

 

About Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men

This year sees Auckland’s Bernie Griffen step out into new territory with his second album Salvation, recorded at Auckland’s The Lab studio in May 2014 with star-studded band The Thin Men comprised of the formidable Chris O’Connore [The Phoenix Foundation, SJD and more] Mike Hall [Pluto, Nightchoir] Mathias Jordan [Pluto, Nightchoir] Jolyon Mulholland [Gasoline Cowboy, Mulholland] Steve Roach [Bernie Griffen and the Grifters] Louise Evans [The Flaming Pearls] and Bernie’s long-time partner/collaborator Kirsten Warner [The Flaming Pearls].

The new record sings out like a scream in a quiet night -- Bernie’s characters are hard-living and hard-loving, outlaw and savior, the lover and the man in trouble -- Bernie Griffen tells tales of adventure, loss and a life hard lived.
It’s a timely follow-up from 2011’s Everything So Far (Bernie Griffen and the Grifters) -- which featured the song 29 Diamonds, championed by Radio NZ’s Trevor Reekie in 2011: "If there’s any justice in this industry, 29 Diamonds would win a Silver Scroll, it is achingly poignant and it will travel forever."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men

Releases

Doors Wide Open
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Salvation
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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