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ALBUM REVIEW: Greta Van Fleet Return To Their Roots With 'STARCATCHER'

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Greta Van Fleet posing for album artwork
Greta Van Fleet by Neil Krug

Who was once a beloved small town band in their home of Frankenmuth, Michigan (current population: 5,549), Greta Van Fleet is one of the most in-demand rock bands of their generation. Breaking out into the mainstream in 2017 with their first-ever number one hit "Highway Tune" from their double EP From The Fires - which earned the band a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2019 - the band and their fan base (aka The Peaceful Army) have grown tremendously in the last five years. In October 2018, GVF released their debut full-length LP Anthem Of The Peaceful Army that provided #1 hits that soared through the rock charts - "When The Curtain Falls" and "You're The One" - not to exclude "Lover Leaver" that reached #3 on the US Mainstream Rock Charts. To promote their debut album, Greta Van Fleet set sail for a world tour named March Of The Peaceful Army throughout 2019 including two sold-out shows at The Red Rocks Amphitheater - which led to the film on YouTube: Greta Van Fleet: Live At The Red Rocks Amphitheater.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Daniel Wagner resorted to the only thing they know how to do - escaped to a cabin in the woods and proceeded to write new music. The band's sophomore album The Battle At Garden's Gate dropped April 16 via Lava Records and featured hit singles such as "Age Of Machine", "Broken Bells," "Built By Nations", "Heat Above" (reached #3 on the US Mainstream Rock Charts) and their #1 fan-focused hit "My Way, Soon." The release of TBAGG led to four special cities getting a glimpse of new GVF songs with shows called Strange Horizons with appeances in Nashville, Chicago, Bridgeport and Los Angeles. In 2022, Greta Van Fleet kicked off their 2022 Dreams In Gold tour in Kalamazoo, Michigan - which led to multiple cancellations of shows due to pyrotechnics issues, sickness, a fractured eardrum and other unfortunate situations. The DIG tour ended in March 2023 in Sacramento - officially announcing their new album title Starcatcher. Fans received a taste of the new album when the band performed new tracks at the show - "The Falling Sky", "The Indigo Streak," "Sacred The Thread", and "Farewell For Now." When the show ended, the curtain dropped and revealed "Starcatcher" as the band's first single from the album "Meeting The Master" played as the walkout song.

After achieving cinematic album success, Greta Van Fleet knew they could best show off their incredible dynamics by getting back to their roots. As Starcatcher was produced by Grammy winning producer Dave Cobb, it's more stripped down than The Battle At Garden's Gate - allowing the instrumentation to shine. To achieve their vision for Starcatcher, the band entered the legendary RCA Studios in downtown Nashville in early 2022 with Cobb. Sam states of the album, "The whole concept for Starcatcher, even before it had a name, was, "Let’s take it back to the beginning. Let’s capture that same energy."

Greta Van Fleet posing for artwork
Greta Van Fleet by Neil Krug

Starcatcher kicks off with a psychedelic vibe featuring soothing keyboard riffs, hazy guitar sounds and alluring vocals in "Fate Of The Faithful." The track explores where we left off with TBAGG by introducing us to a new era for Greta Van Fleet. During its chorus, the spotlight shines on all four members - but focuses heavily on Josh's lower-toned vocals - releasing a dose of serotonin. Traveling into "Waited All Your Life", we're greeted with soft acoustic guitars that are incredibly dreamy. Amassing soft keyboard sounds and ethereal melodies, the track displays more of the band's folk-rock side. Blushing with memorable lyrics and sunshine vibes, this one's for the Greta girlies who love a good GVF ballad to melt your heart. In previously released single "The Falling Sky", Jake exclaims a warrior is carrying on an impossible battle for salvation. “In essence our fate is sealed, alike the stars that fall from the almighty heavens to the earth. This philosophy is carried through in the story of a bluesman, at the crossroads of the universe.”

As we're carried into "Sacred The Thread" and we've allowed our conceptual minds to take over, Josh claims the track is highlighting his love for fashion, primarily his appreciation for wearing glamorous jumpsuits every night on tour. It's no secret that GVF has been known for their 70s/hippie-inspired fashion since breaking into the mainstream in 2017 - showcasing jumpsuits, chelsea boots, striped pants, blazers, stargazing makeup and more. Josh states on the track, “I always like to think that some people’s first impression of Greta Van Fleet in concert is, ‘Wow, these guys really like dressing to the left and blowing shit up. This song is particularly important to me because it’s about my jumpsuits.” Up next is a quick ode to the blues coming in at one minute and seventeen seconds - it's "Runaway Blues." The band is known to be a blues-rock band, but back in the garage days, they lived and breathed the blues. With sounds and ties to previous unreleased tracks of GVF (circa. 2014), the band finally released the blues track they always wanted to.

Greta Van Fleet

Reaching "The Indigo Streak," we've unlocked a new level in Starcatcher. As rough guitar sounds invite us into the cosmos, this four-part harmony filled track is enough to capture your soul and officially welcome you into the new world of Greta Van Fleet. With a psychedelic chorus featuring energetic vocals, scuzzy guitars and a heavy bass line, you'll be screaming these lyrics at the top of your lungs. With our conceptional minds boiling, the lyric that speaks the most is "ready for the garden" - making ties back to TBAGG and making us realize the battle is settling down and we (as warriors) are almost at peace. "Frozen Light" brings to us dirty guitar riffs and lower-toned vocals, along with motivating lyrics such as "I know that I am not alone." The track also mentions cosmic phrases such as "drunken laughter" and "dreams in gold" - once again, tying situations back to TBAGG.

Traveling into "The Archer", we're met with soft acoustics and swaying melodies to ascend us to the next phase. Digging into this track, the warrior explains his journey (to the master) - "I have loved, I have lost/I am the archer". But what infatuates us most is the calming piratical acoustics that keep us craving more. After we experience the story "The Archer" confesses, we are at last meeting the master. Currently sitting at nearly 10 million streams on Spotify, "Meeting The Master" was the breakout single from Starcatcher to capture hearts globally and begin the next GVF era. The track peaked at #4 on Billboard's US Hot Hard Rock Songs and features illuminating vocals, calming acoustics and one hell of a music video. The video (dir. by Gus Black) features all four members in white aesthetic outfits and creates the perfect visual for the track. On collaborating with the band to direct the video Black states, "The final shot of the video is as close to magic as anything I've ever been apart of creating. It was an absolute pleasure collaborating with these fine humans."

"Beauty cloaked in darkness is still beauty." - Josh Kiszka

At last, Starcatcher leaves us with its final track, "Farewell For Now." The fan-focused anthem solidifies the entire journey from The Battle At Garden's Gate to the end of Starcatcher. Although if you're just listening to the track casually, the song just sounds like it's about playing to fans at every show, in every city, state, country, continent. But if you dig deeper, it's as if the warrior is finally free after meeting the master and bidding everyone a proper farewell (for now.) But who is the warrior exactly? The archer, the band, the Peaceful Army? We'll let you decide that for yourself... And we'll also leave you exactly how Greta Van Fleet leaves us with Starcatcher - "It's all for you."


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