The Golden Dregs

On Grace & Dignity

4AD • 2023

Benjamin Woods in the guise of The Golden Dregs presents a pandemic album of a different kind with »On Grace And Dignity«. Whereas other artists mainly deal with the isolation, lack of creative input and absence of audience contact during the pandemic, Woods faced entirely different problems when he lost his job at the Tate Modern bar and had to flee London for his native Cornwall. The only paid work he could find there was as a labourer on a building site, and instead of standing on stage he found himself knee-deep in mud on a council building site. Such gritty scenes provided the inspiration which Woods pours into evocative tales in the nine songs (plus intro) on »On Grace And Dignity«. Gentrification from the perspective of a construction worker or, inspired by Graham Greene’s short story »The Destructors«, the blind destructiveness of a frustrated youth. The Golden Dregs sings his almost literary lyrics in a deep sepulchral voice somewhere between Nick Cave and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, usually over sustained piano chords and gentle instrumentation. However, the full sound of the band is unpacked on several songs like on the early album highlight »American Airlines« or the relaxed folk-rock piece »Not Even The Rain«, letting the sound palette become increasingly rich. As the title suggests, the album does indeed radiate grace and dignity and makes it easy to forget that the bass line on the chorus of »Sundown Lake« is strongly reminiscent of the instrumental part on »99 Red Balloons«…