Every artist’s path is different, but everyone’s path is made up of people. Some artists seek their niche for decades before settling in to their musical home. As a teen, Milwaukee native Grace Weber went straight to the source and joined a youth gospel choir, where she found encouragement and a community. This soul singer/songwriter has since appeared on Today, Oprah, and at the Kennedy Center as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She was voted “One To Watch” at SXSW. The Refinery will appeal to fans of blue-eyed soul singer/songwriters like Duffy, Joss Stone, and Jackie DeShannon.
Weber felt her new songs crying out for a gospel choir, and she knew how to gather one. Her path led her to producers Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Patti Griffin) and Geoff Stanfield (Mieka Pauley, Moby), who surrounded her with a streamlined blend of modern rock and electronic percussion. While writing this set of original, pop/soul songs, Weber reached for a new, grittier writer’s voice. By gritty, I don’t mean that she added a rough edge to her voice or cursing in her lyrics. As these lyrics demonstrate, Weber strove to show emotional courage, spirit and determination.
Among the best songs on this album are “Like a Fool,” the most raw, gospel-tinged performance in this set; “Perfect Strangers,” about secret New York subway fantasies; and “Till I Hurt You,” which lists her regrets over a damaged relationship. Grace Weber’s vocal delivery is polished but honest, sometimes smoky, often agile, with a clear, bright edge that illuminates her lyrics.
– Annie Dinerman