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Grace Hearn and Michael Savage

formerly Hand to Mouth


Country of origin:

U.S.A.

Type of music generally:

They describe themselves as "sensual acoustic", and I think it fits. Unfortunately the best we can do here is probably sensual acoustic alternative pop. (damon 6/00)

Status:

Most recent release, Messy Blue Ending, 2002

See also:

Grace Hearn and Michael Savage website (down as of 4/2017, see their wine website)

CD Baby's page for their Hand to Mouth incarnation

Comparisons:

Cowboy Junkies, or Innocence Mission meets Susan James, lots of Joni Mitchell-like sound. (Neile)

Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star, Laurie Freelove, Jane Siberry, Rickie Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Suzanne Vega, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Michael Savage and Grace Hearn are a duo originally from Baltimore, now living in Seattle. Their output is characterised by beautiful vocals, great lyrics, finely crafted instrumentation and incredible counterpoint. (damon)

Cyoakha was probably the first person to enthusiastically mention them here, which was kind of funny, as I knew Grace in Baltimore and had lost touch with her until Cyoakha hooked me up again. I think they usually play as guitar/piano and vocals. (2/01, Neal)

Their music evokes a lot of other artists, though each to only a limited degree. With lyrics for thinking people, their ventures into diverse styles add up to an excellent listening experience. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Comments about live performance:

It was a real thrill for me to see Grace and Michael of Hand To Mouth again. It's been 9 years since I last saw them, just before they moved away from Baltimore. Not only did I see them play a couple of great sets of music, well, actually, I didn't see them play both sets. The lens on my glasses popped out at the start of their second set, and I was pretty much blind the whole time, despite the fact that they were standing about 10 feet away. It's a shame too, cause Grace is a dramatic live presence. She practically performs interpretive dance while singing. Afterwards, Michael used a guitarstring to tie my glasses together. It was such a good fix that a week later, I still haven't gotten them fixed. (Neal)

Recommended first album:

weightless

Recordings:


this is the place?

(as Hand to Mouth)

Release info:

1993--h2m records--h2mcd10117

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Grade Hearn--vocals
Michael Savage--guitars, guitar synth, keyboards

Guest artists:

Jack Miller--bass
Mike Ertel--bass
Rick Colfer--drums
Will Dowd--drums, percussion

Produced by:

Michael Savage

Comments:

The vocals swells up immediately and you hear the love child of Joni Mitchell and Happy Rhodes, and it's a beautiful baby indeed. Sometimes the music is not up to her voice (my only complaint), and it's not that the music is lame in any way, it's your average folky/rocky guitar and drums, it's just that they are backing a powerful and original voice!!! Kate Bush fans will love the celtic drum ending on track 2. Track 3 is a cool little popish ditty with a great hook and again the vocals take you somewhere you have never been before, maybe harmony-heaven. Track 4 starts and you swear Happydropped into the session until the singer swings into that Joni special phrasing thang...but keep listening and it is neither one, but a wonderful new voice named Grace Hearn. Lyrics are clever, better than average but again, it is the phrasing and clarity of tone that lifts it all off.
     Sometimes I wandered away from the album, especially when they move from Jazzy/Folky/Singer-Songwriter territory into almost Country on Track 11. Just when you are feeling that these vocals deserve better than a hootnanny the music takes an unexpected Jazz turn. A few surprises. Grace has that sweet emotional pitch vocal sweeps so much like Happy Rhodes, it's amazing. So Happy and Joni fans will be happier than a sib in the front row of a Jane Siberry concert and all you who say "what the hell?" well, give it a listen. (cyo@landoftheblind.com)

Calling Madalene

(as Hand to Mouth)

Release info:

1995--h2m records--h2mcd10118

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Grace Hearn--vocals
Michael Savage--guitars, organ, electric piano

Guest artists:

Rich DePaolo--bass
Mike Ricciardi--drums
Will Dowd--drums, percussion
Eric Aceto--violin
Peter Dodge--trumpet

Produced by:

Michael Savage & Rich DePaolo

Comments:

folky pure beautiful voice, great lyrics. (cyo@landoftheblind.com)

weightless

(as Hand to Mouth)

Release info:

2000--h2m records--h2mcd110119

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Grace Hearn--vocals
Michael Savage--acoustic guitar, electric guitar, sample pad, synth, electric piano, slide guitar, synth bass, keyboard, synth lead, loop programming, organ sounds, sparkle piano, piano, tremolo piano, octave guitar, double-reed organ, plink loop, felt-tip marker prepared piano

Guest artists:

Rich DePaolo--bass, bowed cymbal
Bill King--drums, percussion
Brian Earle--clarinet
Peter Dodge--trumpet, accordion

Produced by:

Michael Savage

Comments:

Grace Hearn's voice is lovely, and quite evocative in a very gentle, somewhat ethereal way. Her lyrics are sometimes haunting, always intelligent. Michael Savage's instrumental arrangements strike me as being quite exquisitely crafted, with a very "constructed" feel at times, which does not however detract from the overall experience. Put together they form a very strong duo, music and voice complementary, and with a sometimes breathtaking use of counterpoint--the vocals and instrumentation are never just miming one another--which keeps things interesting and keeps me coming back to listen again. The overall sound is clean and spare, gentle, finely crafted, and beautiful. It's easy to hear a unifying style behind the songs on the album, but at the same time each track is decidedly unique, almost like each is a different acoustic experiment. And they all work. I hear strong but fleeting impressions of Joni Mitchell, especially in the hooks of the first track. I can't really draw many other comparisons. This one has pushed everything else out of my CD player for a while now. (damon)

Their sound is smooth and kind of Joni Mitchell jazz/folkie/pop. Lovely and creative enough to keep me listening, at least with weightless. I highly recommend that disc over their two previous discs, though, which while pretty didn't seem as distinctive and focused to me. This one is really gorgeous. Highly recommended. (Neile)

I've also been listening to Hand to Mouth's weightless CD a bit--really lovely sound, full of quiet intensity and some great lyrics. Grace Hearn doesn't have the strongest, most powerful voice, but she certainly uses the voice she has to great advantage. (jjhanson@worldnet.att.net)


Messy Blue Ending

Release info:

2002--h2m records--H2M04

Availability:

See website

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Grace Hearn--vocals
Michael Savage--electric and acoustic guitars, piano, synthesizer, organ, Moog bass, banjo, drum loop, horn arrangement, string arrangement, glockenspiel, celeste, accordion

Guest artists:

Fred Chalenor--bass
Joel Litwin--drums
Tucker Martine--drums, shaker, tambourine
Laura Veirs--banjo, harmony vocal
Eyvind Kang--viola
Rich DePaolo--bass
Eric Eagle--drums, brushes on leg
Dave Carter--flugelhorn
Craig Flory--flute, clarinet

Produced by:

Tucker Martine and Michael Savage

Comments:

Different tracks take their musical cues from different artists. The first couple seem inspired by Cowboy Junkies or Mazzy Star, with their slow and smoky presentation. A couple of others seemed to shade into the Alison Krauss or Gillian Welch school of bluegrass. One, with seemingly somewhat offbeat lyrics (many of them spoken), reminded me somehow of Jane Siberry. Still other tracks triggered associations with Rickie Lee Jones or Suzanne Vega. Throughout, the quality of wordsmithing in the lyrics is excellent. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

to my ear messy blue ending seems much less subtle than did weightless. it's generally much more "up front" in its sound, attitude and production than the previous album, though some tracks would still sound at home on weightless. the wonderful use of counterpoint is still there, but seems less in the foreground to me. grace hearn's voice is still wonderful, but sounds much less smooth, probably because she's singing more in the foreground now. i suppose the album has a bit more of a "song-oriented" feel overall, whereas weightless was gentle enough to work as more of a unit.
     all of this might lead one to think i like it less, but in fact i would be hard pressed to pick a favourite between the two. it's good to see the evolution that's taken place and i like the direction they're going just fine. messy blue ending keeps making its way back into the cd player even months later, so i'd say it's a keeper. it just caters to a different mood than the last album did.
     one thing i know, i will look forward with anticipation to their next outing. this is great stuff. (damon)


Further info:

Write: Grace Hearn and Michael Savage, PO Box 95361, Seattle, WA 98145, U.S.A., email h2m@msn.com

Thanks to damon and Mitch Pravatiner for their work on this entry.

Why the ads?


Artists commented on by
Neile

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Entry last updated 2017-04-17 20:43:28.
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