After releasing their debut album Man on the Page to critical acclaim in 2013, Surrey folk rock band Good For Grapes were faced with the daunting task of following it up with something equally prolific. As if the pressure wasn’t enough, even more eyes and ears have been fixed upon the group since they took the coveted first prize in 2014’s BC PEAK Performance Project; bringing home a sum of $102,700 to put towards their burgeoning careers.
As a result, there was a lot riding on their highly anticipated sophomore effort, The Ropes, when it arrived on October 2. But from the sound of it, it’s safe to say that the band has definitely dodged the sophomore slump, and then some.
On The Ropes, Good for Grapes sought to expand on their roots-driven sound by adding a little more grit. They enlisted esteemed producer Howard Redekopp (New Pornographers, 54-40, Mother Mother) to help with the process and hunkered down in extended recording sessions at Bryan Adams’ famed Vancouver studio, the Warehouse from March to May earlier this year. Guest musicians John Sponarski and Chris Mitchell stepped in on the pedal steel and trumpet, respectively; adding even greater depth to the sextet’s already impressive multi-instrumentals.
With electrified blues and searing violin alongside signature stomps, The Ropes is distinctly more melody-driven than its predecessor, perhaps partly due to how the songs were approached. Where Good for Grapes played the bulk of the tracks that would make up Man on the Page for over a year before heading into the studio, the new album saw a reverse method that had the band recording the cuts first and then figuring out how to perform them live later.
The result? A thoughtful, well-crafted compilation that captures the maturation of a band whose journey has only just begun.