Greta Van Fleet, From the Fires (EP)

by Rudy Palma

Burgeoning Michigan rockers, GRETA VAN FLEET recently released their eight-song double EP From The Fires, on Lava/Republic.  The disc features four brand new tunes from GVF in addition to four critically acclaimed tracks from the band’s breakout EP Black Smoke Rising, including “Highway Tune,” the band’s debut single that spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Radio chart.  According to the band’s vocalist Josh Kiszka, compiling the four Black Smoke Rising tracks with the four new recordings made for an ideal grouping. “All eight of these songs share a theme of basic humanity,” he said.

The cover art for From the Fire was conceived by Kiszka, who said: “When we were all kids, our extended families and friends spent part of every summer together at a place called Yankee Springs. We were out in the middle of the woods, and every night, we’d sit around a campfire, play music, and tell stories. I always loved that, as it reminded me of ancient times when people would gather around the fires with the tribes’ elders telling fables of wisdom and courage, passing down human history. That concept is where the cover art and title come from.”

The group is comprised of the Kiszka, brothers Josh Kiszka (vocals), Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass, keys) and family friend Danny Wagner (drums).

“Safari Songs,” instantly reminded me of a young Led Zeppelin with huge drums, great group harmonies and a jangling guitar sound reminiscent of Jimmy Page.  Vocalist Josh Kiszka especially sounds like Plant in his upper register.

“Flower Power,” offers a more acoustic based sound, with Hammond organ, great harmonies, and an easy-going classic rock sound.  The group melds tightly in a group chemistry; and you can hear influences of Wilson Pickett and a bit of Joe Cocker in the fire and passion of the overall vibe.

“Black Smoke Rising,” offers up a delicious portion of 70s rock, in a classic sound.  Josh, sings predominately in his head voice, which is a powerful portion of his appeal.  Loaded with bravado, flair, and a righteous attitude of defiance, the harmonies are tight.  The production work is eloquently done with a vintage sound, big drums, intense bass lines, affected guitar and the searing vocals of Josh.  The melodies are harmoniously melodic, while deeply musical.

I look forward to what the future brings for this group, will they be relegated to a knock-off of the Led, or will they get the Led out, and forge their own unique vibe and sound.  Certainly, it is timely for the vintage sound to reappear, just like fashion a freshened appeal is always hip and new, but ultimately will they mold their own persona with each release along the journey. These young gentlemen certainly have the goods, and I look forward to the direction they take this band of brothers.

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