Described by the LA Times as “LA’s next great singer-songwriter”, Ethan Gruska has some big expectations to fufill.
In the low lighting of London’s Slaughtered Lamb, Gruska presented himself as a genunine artist, with the ability to blend complex metaphor with simple and relatable portrayals of life.
Ushering on the singer-song writer was support act Holiday Oscar, who similarly relied on a simple acoustic guitar and vocal set up. His songs were centered within the folk tradition, with lyrics that gave a hint of a Jack Kerouac-equse tales of the road.
Like the venue and audience size, Gruska’s entrance to the small stage was modest and understated. Through the polite applause, he related that playing in London had always been on his bucket list. As he launched into his first piano lead track, the sound of a stock room alarm acted as a distracting off beat.
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“If only it was in key” he joked as the beep chimed on incessantly. “Actually, this kind of sounds like the inside of my head” he related laughing heartily. His easy flow and interaction gave even more sense of the intimate setting that he and the audience found themselves in. Gruska is obviously a man who is no stranger to the stage, and the pitfalls of playing in basement venues.
With the chord progressions of early Joni Michell and the simplicity in expression of Simon and Garfunkel, Gruska moved through his piano and guitar driven set with ease. His track ‘Crash Car’ in particular, which told a gushing story of his new wife’s career in nursing, gave a sense of the real heart and soul behind the instruments. ‘In The Valleys’ told the tale of the musician’s home and the strange effect of living on the outskirts of LA has on the life of a young man.
Gruska can only be described as completely and utterly heartfelt. His short set felt like an autobiographical journey through the singer-songwriters loves, pains and struggles. He is the anti-pedantic, with a way of saying a lot with only a little.