Music Review – ‘Still Life’ by Dave Greaves
On his massive double-album Still Life, Dave Greaves delivers a listening experience that balances delicate storytelling with a deep sense of rawness, all coming together for an unforgettably authentic journey. “Now I don’t know much about the good and the bad,” he sings on opening track “A Piece of This Life,” the first of 22 songs, “but I know about now all that I had.” It’s from that place of vulnerable honesty that Greaves sets the stage for the rest of Still Life.
“These are real songs written from the heart and steeped in soul deep feelings and experiences of a life lived on the razor’s edge that cut to the bone of the artist’s hope to be heard,” Greaves stated when the record was released.
While self-professed descriptions of an artist’s own album can either feel disconnected from the average listener’s experience or too self-congratulatory, Greaves manages to capture the essence of Still Life in those few words, a feat that showcases his inimitable and profound gift for writing. With a voice that honors and blends the likes of Colin Hay, Tom Russell, and the late, great Greg Trooper, Greaves’ writing is elevated to a near-heavenly state as it comes to life with his musical arrangements—all centered around his acoustic guitar.
While there are a shocking number of standout songs on Still Life—something that is often unexpected for a double album—”Phantasy” tends to live up to the moniker of “masterpiece.” The ideas for the song’s lyrics were bouncing around for several years before Greaves put pen to paper to write “Phantasy.” A tale of love—love that may be lost or maybe just be too far out of reach—the singer- songwriter paints a crushing picture with little more than six strings and his voice.
“And I drive by the old chapel in the graveyard / Where I commune with the idea of ‘you and me,'” he sings, inviting the listener into his world. “Among the tree roots that tangle ’round the edge of the stones / Into a John Keats ‘phantasy.'” The song culminates with Greaves singing over and over, “To live in the moment completely / To be with you baby night and day.”
Whether Greaves finds the love he’s searching for in the song, the reality is that he manages to speak to every listener, wherever they might be at in their own relationships and lives. Greaves seems to be living in his moment completely, and Still Life captures it on every turn. “As long as I got faith and a little fight,” he beautifully confesses in that opening track, “I can put it all behind me, in a piece of this life.” The hope is that listeners can live in Greaves’ moment while finding their own place in his songs, finding their own piece of their lives.