Grey Reverend: Bedroom Ballads, Spare By Necessity

Aug 20, 2011

Larry "L.D." Brown, an acoustic songwriter who performs as Grey Reverend, suffers from one of the worst ailments a guitarist can have. Some years ago, he discovered he had focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes muscles to constrict involuntarily, and which eventually caused Brown to lose the use of his left ring and pinky fingers.

Brown adapted to the problem, looking to guitarists such as John Fahey as examples of how to use fewer fingers more effectively. That folk-infused style is showcased on the first full-length album from Grey Reverend, Of the Days, which Brown recorded in his apartment in Brooklyn. Brown tells NPR's Laura Sullivan than his decision to record at home came after some less-than-ideal experiences with proper studios.

"I attempted to record some of these songs in a studio, and found that to be very foreboding and unorthodox and strange for me. I couldn't concentrate and I couldn't emote the way I wanted to," Brown says. "I come up with different versions of just about every song that I write, and I was just waiting for the right moment to be inspired — whether that would be at 4 in the morning, or 1 in the afternoon, or if I had just gotten out of the shower. I realized what it needed was for me to be able to leisurely record these songs whenever I wanted to."

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