catching the waves review


Last week my album ‘Only The Missile’ received an enthusiastic and insightful review on creative commons music blog Catching The Waves. I have reposted a slightly trimmed review below, if you’d like to read the original in all its full glory please click on the following link:


“Only The Missile is a 10-track album that will appeal to lovers of Leonard Cohen, folk music, introspection, pointed lyrics and open hearts.

The album’s transparent mix warms the listener’s ears while giving centre stage to the understated vocals although Robin can be feisty as well as fluffy. Take ‘The Last Time I Saw David’, an unflinching tale about overcoming religious hypocrisy to reach an atheistic/agnostic state of mind, ensures that Robin will not be booking a gig in America’s Bible Belt any time soon. It’s refreshing to hear a heartfelt song that isn’t all: “I wuv ‘oo; ‘oo wuv me.”

Then there’s the soothing lullaby of The Finchley Waltz (play it to any baby and watch them drop off), a quintessentially English response to the terrorist bombings in London on 7/7:

“I daydreamed for hours in the traffic jam
As the good guys and the bad guys stopped play”

I could recommend any track, but I’ll be unoriginal and suggest the opener These Days, an uptempo mandolin and banjo-laden number with a paradoxically slow but optimistic chorus that will get you singing in the bath and, if you’ve suffered because of the credit crunch, because you’ve taken a bath.*

The title track is a toe-tapper with some wailing harmonica – do harmonicas ever do anything else but wail? – and Your Man is another in a seemingly endless supply of huggable love songs. Swan Song and Five (featuring some very welcome ethnic percussion – bongos, tablas, that sort of thing) bring things to a dreamy close – they’re the aural equivalent of a favourite jumper.

Goodness, what a lovely album. It never ceases to amaze me at what talent is lurking in the darker corners of the net. Please think about sending him a little cash, or, failing that, bake him a cake. He likes cake. A lot. Finally, if I may venture a little advice to Mr Grey: tuck your shirt in, young man. This is the internet – we have standards.”

fensepost review

I just got home from the streets of London to discover a truly lovely review from a US blog called fensepost which I have printed in full below as it made my day…

‘Here is an artist that seems to revel in acoustic sweetness. London’s Robin Grey invites you into his coffee shop friendly world on his latest release. “I Love Leonard Cohen” is a five-track EP so splendid Mr. Cohen himself should be more than honored to have such a talented fan. Anyone looking for a fun-filled depressive state, look no further.

Grey reminisces of greater times on the title track “I Love Leonard Cohen”. This is a masterful folk bit paying a strange tribute to anyone with a regretful memory, as well as simple odes to Meat Loaf, Jeff Buckley, R.E.M., and, more so than others, outplayed Weezer CDs. The blindingly smooth “Shakes and Shudders” is a beautiful backdrop while reading Kerouac’s tale of strength defying times at Desolation Peak – calm, beautiful, and a bit resentful of the pretentious normalcy.

Robin Grey will not need to do too much to prove himself an incendiary artist in the world of folk music. His calmly exquisite mannerisms seem to bring you back to a simpler time and place, whenever you want it to be. There is literature in his words. And “I Love Leonard Cohen” is a beautiful story, desperate to be told.’

taken from

interview with tart

Just before christmas I did an interview with Tarty Tart for her lovely blog.

The original can be found here ( but I thought i might post the interview in its entirety as she asked some really good questions…

Tart: The most obvious question: have you got to meet your hero, Leonard Cohen!?

Robin: Nope, not yet – I must confess I left The Glastonbury Festival before he went on stage this summer, wanting to get home before the end of festival crush so I haven’t even got to see him play live…

This may be a good thing as my expectations tend to run a little on the high side – anything other than a profoundly life changing experience would have likely been a bit of a let down for me 🙂

I have read a fair number of interviews and books, as well as spending quality time with his music and poetry, so we are fairly well acquainted nowadays without having met.

Tart: Some of the songs, especially on your LP, Only The Missile, deal with lost love. Is heartache a kinder muse than happiness for you? And how so? “These Days” comes to mind for me on this theme, as does “Every Waking Hour,” of course but also “Shakes and Shudders.”

Robin: Heartache used to be my most steady muse but she has been a less frequent visitor of late and other muses have been dropping by in her place. It has been a great relief for me to have a wider pool of inspiration as I was getting a little tired of singing solely about unrequited and lost love.

I am happy to say that my next record looks likely to touch on life, politics, global warming, permaculture gardening, transience, Leonard Cohen, nostalgia and family amongst other themes.

Tart: I love your voice as it’s sounding lower on the EP, I Love Leonard Cohen, you seem to be taking it down to the lower register more than on the LP, is that intentional? For me, it’s the vocals that catch me, then I start to hear the words and after that the musical arrangement. Somehow the EP sounds more personal, more heartfelt and well… “you.” What do you think of my analysis? How do you prefer to sing? Do you write for your voice or for the guitar?

Robin: I am still taking my first few fledgling steps both in discovering my voice and also in learning how to sing my songs. This has been far and away the biggest learning curve and challenge in the last two years. I am slowly growing in confidence with my singing which is allowing me to capture performances that are more real – I think you are close to the mark in your analysis and I thank you for recognizing that.

I have not found a preferred way to sing yet and enjoy a varied approach to writing. There are many songs I am still working out how to perform and I joust with them regularly; indeed a couple of my best tunes have yet to yield and I don’t feel I will be ready to sing them for a good while yet. I like that they are watching me from the wings waiting for the right moment to take the stage.

Tart: Why release an EP so soon after the LP (was the EP a kind of “clearing of the air” as I suspect?) and just how many songs do you have up your sleeve, man!? 🙂

Robin: My song ‘I Love Leonard Cohen’ was far too impatient to wait for another album to come along so took it upon itself to gather up a few other songs and release an EP. I really had very little to do with it but was grateful for the excuse to have another launch party.

I am approaching forty songs that have got past the cutting room floor and my pen is still being kind enough to provide more candidates with reasonable regularity.

Tart: I’m so curious about your choice of releasing your music on a creative commons license. Tell me why you chose that avenue and how Jamendo is working out for you?

Robin: I was inspired by Ruth Theodore’s use of the creative commons license on her amazing debut album ‘Worm Food’ which I had the privilege to work on.

I feel it absurd to criminalize anyone who wants to share my music; creative commons has provided an inspiring legal framework for solidifying this intuition.

The creative commons website Jamendo has exposed a huge number of people to my music who otherwise wouldn’t have heard it and that can only be a good thing.


Mr. Grey, I can assure you, is full up of good things! Sometimes with a simple guitar backing, others with glorious harmonizing vocals and harmonica, his songs are pure folk and excellent storytelling. There’s a sense of humor, a sense of heartache, a sense of longing in them.

It’s great music to sit and listen to intently the first time and then to have on throughout the day from that point on. I hope you find his music as much of a comfort and a joy as I have. It’s the perfect antidote to those post-holiday blues, just snuggle up with your favorite blankie, or better yet, your favorite lover and have a good listen to these gorgeous tunes from quite a talented chap.

You can also donate a few extra dollars to him on Jamendo’s site in lieu of a purchase price for his album. Surely you have a little something left over, darlings xoxoxo

stop okay go interview

‘Stop Okay Go’ have just done a little feature on me with an interview – you can read the original along with other thoughts and musings at or read it below…

I often forget that there’s anyone reading this blog, happily wrapped up as I am in my own obsessions. So imagine my delight and surprise when I found out that London folksinger Robin Grey read an entry I wrote on him way back in April. Luckily, the medication was working that day and I was being nice. And what is there not to love, really? The thoughtful Grey sings in a deep English voice that gives his songs a sweeping and poetic quality. His album Only The Missile is out now. Read more from the ukulele-teaching and Eminem-loving (we have so much in common!) Robin Grey below:

Stop Okay Go (SOG): The song ‘Every Waking Hour’ is soooo romantic. What girl doesn’t want to hear that there’s a man who is thinking of her in his every waking hour? Tell the truth: was it written sincerely or as a way to pick up girls at shows?

RG: Definitely from the heart. I write silly/insincere songs too but they don’t sit with the majority of my material so I choose not to perform or record them at the moment.

I have been toying with the idea of putting on a wig and adopting an alter ego so these other songs get an occasional airing in public but the lighter side of my personality gets a good work-out teaching kids ukulele so I feel no need at present. At the time of writing ‘Every Waking Hour’ I was lucky enough to be living next door to a drum and bass producer called Mark Watt who also rocked the double bass. He jammed a groove which made the song for me and really picked up the tempo. I recorded that rest of the song about two years later when I rediscovered Mark’s bass line whilst deleting old material from my computer.

SOG: I also love the storytelling and delicate pluck-work in ‘The Finchley Waltz.’ What a beautiful song. I read a review that said your voice sounds like it would be suited for protest music. Is there a message in the song and how do you feel about political songs? You don’t hear many of them anymore.

RG: Thank you. There is a political message in ‘The Finchley Waltz’ somewhere but it gets very tangled up with the other themes of Englishness, motion, love and lost innocence. The song was written just after the 7/7 bomb attacks in London when the police were bringing the town to a stand-still whilst raiding the houses of suspected ‘terrorists’.

When I sing ‘The Good Guys and The Bad Guys stopped play’ I am certainly flagging up my sorrow at our politicians/media/societies urgent desire to pigeon-hole situations into ‘us’ v ‘them’ and ‘good’ v ‘bad’ etc. and how unhelpful I think that can be.

The image in my head at the time was of cops and robbers (suicide bombers) stopping a cricket match and stuffy elderly Englishmen in the crowd (politicians) tut tutting about what a bad show it was and how they should jolly well stop all that nonsense (and further opining it should be prevented by locking up anyone who stands out of line).

I have written political/protest songs but canned all of them thus far because they either sounded preachy or trite. For the time being I think politics will remain a background theme in my lyrics unless I can pen anything as good as ‘Blowing In The Wind’, ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ or ‘What’s Going On.’

SOG: We’d love to see you here in the U.S. Will you be performing stateside any time soon and what does the future hold for Robin Grey?

RG: I’m currently settling for pretty much the first time in my nomadic little life with a lovely little studio and house in a leafy, ramshackle corner of East London. I am finding it hard to leave my neighbourhood, let alone the country at the moment. I would love to travel with my guitar again one day but I am enjoying putting down roots and growing things too much at the moment.

As for the future, I have another 20+ songs I am working on at the moment and now I have a better idea of the recording process I can’t wait to start playing with microphones again. I may also have a stab at putting my own band together at some point to expand the live show.

Since my album has been out I have been getting better shows and audiences and I hope I can continue to grow things patiently whilst having fun and learning more about songwriting, arranging, recording and performing.

SOG: Thanks Robin! Best of luck!

song by toad review

Somehow I only found out about this review yesterday…might explain why things have been a bit more lively on my myspace though…you can see the original review and browse around the rest of Song by Toad‘s excellent site by clicking on the picture below.

This is going to be a slightly equivocal review, I think. Robin is a new artist, and I always think twice if I’m going to be less than entirely generous about people you may never have heard of before.

What do I mean? Well I’m not entirely convinced by all of this album. There are a couple of tracks, most notably Somewhere, which are pretty unremarkable – I’m thinking Hugh Grant starring in another of those dismal Working Title romcoms of his, basically. Going to his MySpace page, there are a couple more like that, which made me a little nervous, I had to admit.

Associating these lapses with the rest of this album is easy, but really completely wrong. It’s actually a fabulous album for the most part, really it is: warm, melancholy, gentle, witty and just playful enough that the sparse instrumentation and generally slow pace never flirt with tedium. It has real life, this record, albeit a low-key, non-intrusive kind of life.

He plucks and rumbles along, in a most English manner, tells his stories in a plain and unpretentious way that is really personal and really engaging. By the end of the record you realise you’ve listened to the sort of music that feels like a relaxed night in with a good friend at the end of a tiring week. And you’re a bit drunk, but not too sozzled. And you feel a little sleepy, but in a nice, warm way. Things are fine, actually, aren’t they?

Bluesy and folky, with enough embellishment to add texture, but which never detracts from the gentle strum of the guitar and raspy, but not growling quality of his voice. It is minimal, but it’s not sparse, and it may be a bit DIY, but it’s not amateurish, and it may not grab you instantly, but it’s a really bloody good album.