Tumbler – Come to the Edge


Tumbler: this family/friend-founded-kitchen-jam-band has cooked up their second album ‘Come To The Edge’, pulling from their massive repertoire of jam tunes, stretching back as far as forty years.

Father, vocals, and guitar Richard Grace, son, vocals, and guitar Harry Grace, and friend, guitar, keys, backing vocals, and producer Dave Needham have harnessed a history of musical collaboration with family and friends, and honed it into this eclectic compilation of love, loss, stagnation, and political strife.

The mix is cleverly done to reflect a sort of aged modernity; one can somehow hear the time travel, track by track, backwards and forwards. So let’s take a journey through this album, shall we?

Opening on a pessimistic view of humanity: apathy, and the political power that dominate so much of the world, these ‘Black Sheep‘ rock in forlorn hope to reach out and tell us all how abused we have been and are being by the system: a system that cares about its pockets more than life itself. Clearly a dark frame in which to begin, the tune embodies the machine of power with hard distortion, and sweetens the hope yearned for with silvery vocal interludes. The essence of the track is powered by both low and high harmonies: one mechanical, the other eerily dulcet, with a constant driving rhythm that brings us to a climax we may expect, but don’t wish for; the spirit of a jam song: finding the definitive end, but knowing it could go on forever.


harry-2‘Seems it Don’t Take Much‘ to switch gears on this thrill ride of an album, moving from wasted life to letting love go. Though carrying elements of the eerie opening forward into this second track, the “forgive and forget” feel shines the first rays of light on this album with an easygoing groove, letting the percussion take us on a hop and skip through the pains of post breakup into an acceptance of the past, quick ponder of the present, and a foray into the future. A flow that’s “stronger than you and I know”.


One of my favourite tracks on this album, I’m quickly ‘Falling‘ for this epic tune. I’m unsure yet if this is a love song, or a song about God and the world. I think my reasoning being the Collective Soul-esque orchestration that lifts this song to the divine, and the singing of the beauties of the world in “individual moments”, and the seeming ignorance of God of the Earth. But the chorus of this song reminds me so much of someone I fell for when I lived in Toronto: not always being able to understand, but wanting to hear her again…’Falling‘ for her. “What does it mean”?


There’s certainly ‘Nothing To Hold You‘ from enjoying this peppy song of loss. The contradictory feel good choral singing and horn section on this track gives one a strange sense of satisfaction in the loss of a brief lover. There really is a permeation of the kitchen jam in the album. Even the tragedies of life are made bearable, and perhaps even laughable when you can share them with friends and family through music.


The ‘Sweetest Thing‘ about this track is the lulling reprieve it gives in its full enjoyment of love. The banjo picking in the background, loose backing vocals and chatter, and general levity of the guitar and percussion give a fully realized relaxation that may have been hinted at in earlier tracks, but the complete immersion; being “all washed out with love” really allows the listener to settle for a brief interlude amidst an album of protest and pain.


This ‘Week‘ has been made by my favourite tracks on this album, and this is most certainly one of them. The whole composition is beautiful, step by step, through each section, like a true musical journey. The harmonies and appropriate music pulls are enough to bring tears to one’s eyes. In writing this review, I have repeated this song so many times. This interesting, and deep song about the passage of time in the constraints of society, and finding one’s own way through the mess while maintaining a solid foundation is something that rings in my ears with great truth.

One would have to have a ‘Winter Cold Heart‘ to not be touched by this alternative folk tune with the spirit of an age long since gone by. The eerie winds blowing off the top of the track, and the straightforward beat marching us “upon a lake of ice” with ethereal backing vocals as almost wisps of snow brushing past the listener give a lucid picture of the tune.


The band’s ‘Diamond In A Drawer‘ may not be my favourite track, but it’s groove is so easy to sink into, and the compressed Lennon-esque vocal effect, matched with classic film strings, and industrial hits make it a wicked cruising tune. A spacey guitar solo, and perfectly timed music pulls give a polished finish to this cool but simultaneously morose track.


tumbler-1Joanne‘, going back forty years in the writing of one Richard Grace, is a beautiful song. The ethereal “choirs in the echoes of churches” backing the track with pretty piano, and a heavenly guitar solo roll the snare into an intercessory march, but none of this would matter without the touching lyrics, and Richard’s mellifluous melody of a woman he doesn’t know.


Tumbler is ‘In Safe Hands‘ when son and brother Jim Grace takes his turn in this culinary music fest, singing an affecting lyric of finding one’s way through life, and waking at the end in peace; without fear.


This simply despondent acoustic piece, with brooding strings, doleful harmonies, and echoing drums tears at the heart strings. “Wait[ing] by the phone” Harry waits for her to ‘Dial‘, but happiness is hard to find when you’re “too damn tired”. Anyone who’s lost a lover will be gripped by this melancholy melody.


It’s been so long since I’ve heard a good protest song, but ‘Freedom The Cry‘ is just the right mix of industry standard and solid ‘fuck you’ to the state that I think people will take to it in spite of their apathy, hopefully “living while [they're] alive”, taking initiative over their own lives; never minding the sirens and the dogs. This final track of the album brings to mind a quotation from the band: “The most important music is the music you make for yourself.”

Tumbler, though honing their music with more of a focus on this second album, still carry with them the years of jamming with family and friends, and this gives them a greater personal perspective on all of their music. ‘Come To The Edge’ is indeed an eclectic album, in spite of the aforementioned focus, and I think this is to the band’s credit; they have so much to pull from because they have only ever created music with and for each other. This is that most important music. Whether or not you like their style, or diversity, one cannot fault honest expression on this level.

tumbler-2Definitely on my playlists from now on, I am more than happy to have ‘Come To The Edge’, because I came, they pushed, and I flew.

Check out both ‘Come To The Edge’ and their debut album ‘You Said’ HERE!