If you have not heard a discussion comparing Greta Van Fleet to classic rock kings Led Zeppelin, well you must not be listening. So, let’s get past it, embrace it for what it is and move on to what the first full-length record from GVF has in store beside the obvious.
The opener “Age of Man” starts off symphonically when that distinct voice of Josh Kiszka breaks in with an atmosphere reminiscent of classic rock giants like Traffic, Yes or Rush. But fear not, the formula that GVF has built has not diverged from their solid Zep roots but is evolving into other classic formulas. As soon as the “Page like” riffs of Jake Kiszka on “The Cold Wind” break open it is clear that the band knows not to bite the hand that feeds, and it has been feeding them very well since they have been selling out venues with a consistent record.
So, is that what is in store for the first full-length grom GVF…a bunch of ripped of chord progression from the T-Rex of dinosaur rock? Absolutely not. First off Page ripped his riffs from all the famous bluesmen, so Jake is just taking that piece of winning formula and making it his own. For the classic rock lovers out there it is like getting new music from their long gone faves. Take “When the Curtain Falls”, a rip-roaring blues rocker that combines all the elements of past road warriors and churns them out like sweet southern butter.
The influential ingredients each member brings to the table make the ultimate main dish with some tunes sticking out in a particular genre more than others. The somewhat soft-spoken “Watching Over” has some real hints of world music via Josh’s interest and Jake’s sitar-like guitar effects. “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)” possesses a distinct bass line from Sam Kiszka (the bands’ true multi-instrumentalist) and a perfectly syncopated drum rhythm from Danny Wagner that just works to build a well constructed pure rock song that at the bridge plays with psychedelia enough to tease but not go full blown Floyd.
“You’re the One” hits the acoustic flavor with some excellent organ accompaniment to attempt to bring into being an anthemic quality within a love song, but slightly misses the mark in memorability, lagging in its simplicity. “The New Day” continues down the acoustic dominated path sounding a bit more Zep III once again punctuated by organ fills and very catchy verses and chorus. As the LP moves on to “Mountain of the Sun” GVF does not try to fix what is not broken and “Brave New World” also stays true but definitely not as comparable to Zep but more pieces of Tull and even Zebra and Fastway, who were also derivatives of the Led Zep comparison syndrome. Finally, the record concludes with “Anthem”, a syrupy simple chord song with slide guitar, tambourine, bongos, and acoustics that catapults back to the peace-loving hippies of Ashbury.
All in all the new music from Greta Van Fleet is an excellent tribute to an era gone by with splotches of originality, and that is not an insult. The band is hitting some nostalgic notes that are clearly resonating with a huge audience. If imitation is the highest form of flattery and you get the blessing from Plant and Page themselves well you must be doing something right.