Heather Gruber Dances Into The Desert on New Album
Granted, the Heather Gruber story sounds just a tad bit familiar. A young woman grows up in the deep south in East Tennessee (makes you wonder how far she was from Eightball & MJG in Orange Mound), then moves out west to make it big in the entertainment industry. She’s not as an actress, however, but rather a singer, a songwriter, a producer. And this time, the entire drama—the move, the industry struggles, the transition to the culture of the glamorous—is well documented on the soundtrack to Gruber’s life, her recently released full length effort, Dance into the Desert.
Desert appears to be Gruber’s first significant release since her EP approximately three years ago entitled Imagination. The album had quite a build-up, both musically and personally. The artist, who’s credited with producing the entire long player, released eight singles a week apart during the two months leading up to the collection’s November 30 unveiling. The majority of the LP was crafted during the period in which Gruber had moved to Southern California, imbuing it with a refreshingly frank viewpoint from an artist telling her own unique truths, as only she can.
The album’s definitely got a distinctively bouncy, almost upbeat vibe, which seems to be the common thread throughout the 13 tracks. Gruber certainly knows how to put a few hooks together, as evidenced on strong efforts such as “Beauty Outside the Lines” and “Here You Go Again”. With the solid acoustic foundation of most of the tunes, the work is a hybrid of down-home country sensibility with pronounced pop inclinations. These songs aren’t just made for, ahem, dancing as implied by the title, but also for singing, for letting yourself go, and for getting carried away in the uplifting melodies and catchy beats.
Interestingly enough, the background vocals showcase Gruber’s maturity as a songwriter. On most of the tunes, her oohs and aahs help to pick up the pace on the way to the hook, which is a practice found in some of the most convincing popular music of all time. “What’s so Good about Being Young” delivers a perfect illustration of this characteristic of the singer songwriter as she questions conventional thoughts about the alleged benefits of youth. By continuing to hone her craft with well-executed efforts like Dance into the Desert, Gruber may very well yet produce a happy ending for a narrative which sounds like its still very much a work in progress.