CD Review: Griffin House “Rising Star”

Griffin House is a musician and singer-songwriter who went in the direction of music when he could have taken a much different path in life. He was offered a golf scholarship to Ohio University but chose Miami University in Oxford, Ohio instead. While there, he focused his free time on learning to play guitar and write songs.

It was just after the turn of the new millennium that Griffin House would begin releasing his own music. Once he found his voice, Griffin House started creating his own albums. The first release from House was the 2002 album No More Crazy Love Songs. The album of Upland coming out in 2003 was a big stepping stone for House. It was that album would lead to House being signed to Nettwerk America. And with the album of Lost & Found being released on that label, Griffin House would finally reach a point where he was truly making a name for himself.

In the time that has passed since those days, Griffin House has released a number of albums and other releases that contain his version of Americana music, which contains a strong, underlying Rock and Roll flavor to the music as well as other musical influences. The most current album from the singer-songwriter, released earlier this year, is entitled Rising Star.

Griffin House’s new album of Rising Star is very much like a soundtrack album. The reason for that is because songs from the album are being used in a new documentary film that uses the same title. Both the documentary of Rising Star and the songs on the accompanying album deal with the life of House as he recalls his claim up the ladder within the music industry in the town of Nashville that he has been part of for years now.

Rising Star from Griffin House begins with the title track of the release. “Rising Star” is a track that features a rather sparse production quality to the music as the song contains only the acoustic guitar and the vocals from House himself. “Rising Star” is a singer-songwriter type of song that comes across as a story set to music. The lyrics focus on House as he sings about a man trying to make a name for himself, gaining momentum as he goes.

The new release from Griffin House continues with the song “15 Minutes of Fame,” a phrase that most artists are familiar with as it is used to describe the average length of the popularity of any actor, singer, athlete that never gets to “superstar” level. While “Rising Star” contained its sparse production feel, “15 Minutes of Fame” finds House and the musicians who helped bring the album to life creating a track with a straight-out Rock and Roll approach. The driving feel of the guitar on the track, mixed with the feel of the lyrics and the vocals from House all combine to create a track that sounds strongly inspired by the likes of Tom Petty. “15 Minutes of Fame” focuses on a person on the way up dealing with friends coming out of the woodwork now that he has some fame.

With the track “Mighty Good Friend,” Griffin House feels as if he is trying to create a song in the middle of family life. The track features background sounds of a child playing as House creates a track that blends together several different elements. With the inclusion of the banjo, you get some Country/Folk flavor. With the inclusion of the melody sung by House, you get some 4 Non Blondes influence. Ultimately, the song comes off sounding like something from early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The lyrics deal with House trying to write a song and just not being able to get around the voice in his head (the friend referred to in the title).

On the track “Hindsight,” Griffin House and company take the music back to the seventies as the track contains a rather easy pace to the music. The Folk/Rock blend on the track brings to mind the lighter artists from that era. More specifically, the music and the vocal delivery in the song bring to mind the style of Gordon Lightfoot as it sounds like from that musician’s material from the seventies. Even the lyrics seem rather reminiscent of Lightfoot’s style as those lyrics contain a slight sadness as House sings of becoming aware of what has happened only when he looks back.

Griffin House changes the feel of the music rather drastically with the song “Cup of Fulfillment”. The track begins with the sound of uilleann pipes before the track segues into a Lite Rock feel to the music. House sings lyrics that seem to have a rather spiritual feel to them, as he seems to be talking to a higher power. The spiritual lyrics and the Lite Rock feel to the music combine nicely to create a track that would fit easily within a current Christian Rock radio format.

The feel of the music on Rising Star changes once again with the song “Natural Man”. Griffin House and friends take the music back to an earlier time. The heavier Rock and Roll flavor on the track borrows influence from the eighties. The track features strong electric guitars and an all-over style that would have fit alongside Eddie Money, John Cougar Mellencamp, even Bruce Spingsteen.

With the track “Crash and Burn,” Griffin House stays within a timeless feel of the music. The lighter, easier feel to the music as well as an easier pace combine to create a track that feels like something from Pink Floyd. And while the title “Crash and Burn” feels like something that band might have written, the lyrics deal with someone dealing with the inevitable situation of falling apart and no longer being part of the mainstream, needing to step aside as the next Rising Star comes into the spotlight.

Like other albums in Griffin House’s discography, the ever-changing feel of the music within the Rising Star album keeps the album interesting. Much of the new release from Griffin House blends together, creating a loose story-line throughout the tracks. But since the album was created at the same time a documentary film starring House was being created, that’s understandable. And with the loose story-line running through the tracks, this ends up being one of the more interesting albums produced by the singer-songwriter.

For a taste of Rising Star from Griffin House, check out “Mighty Good Friend,” one of the tracks off of the album. 

To check out the entire Rising Star release from Griffin House, click on the album cover below: