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Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

4.0 1
by Spiritualized

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Jason Pierce is no stranger to the feedback-drenched garage rock that kicks off Amazing Grace, Spiritualized's fifth album. Although his group is better known for lushly orchestrated, gospel-tinged recordings such as 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Pierce has returned to


Jason Pierce is no stranger to the feedback-drenched garage rock that kicks off Amazing Grace, Spiritualized's fifth album. Although his group is better known for lushly orchestrated, gospel-tinged recordings such as 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Pierce has returned to the heady sounds of his youth with Spacemen 3, a group equally inspired by the Stooges, the 13th Floor Elevators, and a battery of mind-altering drugs. In fact, he recently told the NME that the rawness of groups such as the White Stripes inspired him to crank the amp volumes back up to 11 -- and the clamoring fuzz and drone of songs such as "This Little Life of Mine" and "She Kissed Me (It Felt like a Hit)," Amazing Grace's opening pair, bears that out. Even so, Pierce still finds time to bare his soul, revealing the dangerous flip side to his aggressive search for the high -- whether attained by sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, or religious ecstasy. On "Hold On," Pierce sounds as if he's scraping up all remaining psychic energy on his plea to hold on "to those that you love / 'cause...death cannot take what you've already lost," his desperate voice bobbing atop a gospel-infused arrangement of acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica. Amazing Grace is split between confessional moments, such as the sweeping "Oh, Baby" and "Lord Let It Rain on Me," where Pierce's heartache is cushioned by a gospel choir -- it's no accident that this disc shares a name with Aretha's towering return-to-the-church album -- and more upbeat, garage-styled rockers, such as the Dylan-inspired romp "Cheapster," and the amalgam, for Pierce and his audience, is still transcendent.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
After the arduous process of making 2001's hyper-orchestrated Let It Come Down and hearing the fierce, back-to-basics rock of bands like the White Stripes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jason Pierce vowed that the next Spiritualized album would be a departure from the excesses of his previous efforts. In some aspects, Amazing Grace makes good on his word: right down to its cover art -- a photo of a naked arm, free of any ornament (or track marks) -- the album makes a show of its simplicity. The pair of rockers that begin Amazing Grace are just as driven as anything that has come out of the recent wave of garage rock revivalism, but save for some lo-fi affectations, could easily appear on any of Spiritualized's other albums. Indeed, lyrics like "This little life of mine/I'm gonna let it slide" and song titles like "She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit)" are so quintessentially Spiritualized that they border on parody. The album's softer moments also have a slightly rehashed quality and are still fairly ornate. While "Hold On" and "Oh Baby" are more restrained than Pierce's Let It Come Down material, that just means that their excesses are less excessive -- there's only one orchestra and gospel choir per song. However, the processes that Pierce used to craft the album aren't as important as the fact that its songs aren't especially distinctive. Amazing Grace touches on all of Spiritualized's song archetypes: fiery rockers ("Never Going Back," "Cheapster"), gospel-tinged pleas for salvation ("Lord Let It Rain on Me"), ethereal laments ("Rated X"), and forays into jazz ("The Power and the Glory"), but, despite energetic performances and a relatively simple approach, very few of the songs connect. If anything, the stripped-down production magnifies the album's nondescript songwriting. The standout track is "The Ballad of Richie Lee," a bleakly beautiful song that truly does use the orchestra in a restrained and powerful way, making a logical progression from where Pierce's music has been to where it could be going. Amazing Grace is far from a bad album, but it's not an especially compelling one, either. The yin and yang of Spiritualized's symphonies and rock make for a sharp contrast in his work, but they can also settle into a rut, as is the case here. Die-hard Pierce fans may find a lot to like about Amazing Grace, but then again, they may find another spin of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space more rewarding.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Spiritualized   Primary Artist
Evan Parker   Saxophone
Kenny Wheeler   Trumpet
Lorraine McIntosh   Vocals
John Coxon   Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Autoharp,Hammond Organ,fender rhodes,Fender Jazz Bass,Fender Telecaster
Angie Brown   Vocals
Mary Pearce   Vocals
Spaceman   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Piano,Vocals,Bells,Hammered Dulcimer,farfisa organ,fender rhodes,Epiphone Casino,Fender Jazz Bass,Fender Jaguar,Fender Telecaster
Thighpaulsandra   Piano,Hammond Organ,fender rhodes,Kurzweil PC88,Vox Continental
Kevin Bales   Drums
Nick Smart   Trumpet
Jonny Aitken   Drums
Tony Woollard   Cello
Doggen   Bass,Guitar,Harmonica,Fender Jazz Bass,Fender Jaguar
Tom Edwards   Piano,Maracas,Marimbas,Tambourine,Timpani,Vibes,farfisa organ,sleigh bells,Tubular Bells,Foot Stomping,Optigan,Vox Continental
Fay Sweet   Violin
Nicola Sweeney   Violin
Jonathon Morcambe   French Horn
James Adams   Trombone
Ray Dickaty   Saxophone
Ben Edwards   Trumpet
Dave Temple   Saxophone

Technical Credits

John Coxon   String Arrangements
Jason Pierce   Arranger,Producer
Mads Bjerke   Engineer
Spaceman   String Arrangements,Concept,Scenery
Ben Crook   Registrant
J. Spaceman   Producer

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Amazing Grace 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Kimmiee More than 1 year ago
I listen to this album for encouragement. This was one of the only albums I could listen to while I was grieving my mother's death. It helps me slow down, look around and suck it all in.