Griffin House’s “The Learner”

According to TBI writer, C.E. Breslin, Griffin House falls short of his heroes.

C.E. Breslin

out of 10

Griffin House
The Learner
June 22, 2010
Nettwerk Records

Griffin, you had me with the first three tracks.  In fact, this record is almost completely about these three.  “If You Want To” hooked me with a sort of re-packed Tweedy likeability and reeled me in with the line: “So maybe when you’re ready / and if I’m ever steady enough / If I’m ever Tom Petty enough / then I’ll write you a song.”  I went to school in Gainesville; I spent several hours of my most recent summer in rock-umentary training learning just how to run down my dreams.  Petty was the key to getting me on board early.  Petty is the standard of likeable pop-Americana to which artists like Griffin House aspires, and rightfully so.

House continues to cull from a palate of pleasing alt-country on the second track.  It’s hard to ignore the similarities between “River City Lights” and any track you might like to access off of Ryan Adams and Co.’s Follow The Lights EP.  I’ll even concede House comes off with a sensitivity and a sincerity that I’m not sure Adams is capable of.

The final track of this triumvirate, “Standing At The Station,” does a pretty fair Bruce Springsteen impression.  If the cover art suggests Darkness-era Boss, the howling squeals demonstrate Nebraska’s rambling swagger; though the chugging tune’s outlaw persona quickly gets dashed as the album spins on.

Beyond these three (perhaps barring the spare Adam-esque “Rule the World”), the rest of the album falls flat.  It seems that once House veers from these well-known and proved influences, there’s just not the same intensity.  Here’s to hoping that this “learner” continues to sit at the feet of some of the great performers he emulates at the beginning.  He has definitely chosen some of the best of his genre.  But, the remainder of the album makes it painfully obvious that the student has yet to surpass his mentors.