Although not the “return” to garage rock some have described this as, Amazing Grace is undeniably a far more stripped-down and sonically naked effort than Jason Pierce’s previous albums. It may be regarded as a nod towards his days with Spacemen 3, but this is still unmistakably a Spiritualized album, even though the grandiose ambition of his earlier work has been replaced with a gentler, less panoramic sound.
It’s really only on “This Little Life of Mine” and “Never Goin’ Back” that one recognizes the influence of the garage rock revivalists. Elsewhere, Pierce is still writing his spiritual pastiches; wonderfully so on the stripped-down and gentle “Oh Baby,” if less inspirational on the instrumental “Lord Let It Rain On Me” and “Lay It Down Slow,” which both are more or less new versions of themes he’s tried out several times before. Amazing Grace is an uneven album, for sure, partly because Pierce seems unsure of how to tackle this new format of his, but mainly because of the sheer lack of consistency in songwriting and arrangement. At times, this is a solid and careful album, with Pierce successfully exploring alternate ways to approach his music. But, Amazing Grace never feels as important as Pierce’s best work; it appears to be more of a transitional album than anything else. If that’s the case, then his next one could be a really great one.
Sanctuary Records: http://www.sanctuaryrecords.com/