The title of Vince Grant’s new EP could not be more up-front. My Depression is Always Trying to Kill Me, Grant’s debut EP which released in February, is deliberately meant to address the mental illness that is its namesake. This five-song EP is apparently only the tip of the iceberg, however, as the singer/songwriter has been writing as a form of therapy for years, and it shows in this brave and bold new EP.
Vince Grant started his musical journey as a busker on Venice Beach after moving to Los Angeles from Chicago. After playing in a number of bands and crisscrossing the country, Grant says his mental illness got the better of him and stopped him in his tracks. He had been using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, and due to bottoming out he was forced to deal with his addiction and the underlying cause of it. This is when Grant recognized the cathartic and therapeutic qualities of his writing and made the decision to go solo.
Melancholia is the lead track and first single on My Depression is Always Trying to Kill Me, and it is also the most interesting on the album. Vince Grant describes his style as “alternative indie gothic rock,” and Melancholia is the song on the EP which most resembles that mashup. Both the lyrics and the music on this song take the listener on a journey. It opens with simple acoustic guitar and organ, but then quickly launches into an indie-style rock ballad. The chorus has a full-bodied wall of sound feel as does the coda, but with some 80s new wave technique as well. Grant’s extraordinary lyrics recount the difficulties of trying to find and keep love while dealing with an unchecked mental illness.
The rest of the album errs a little more on the hard rock side of the musical spectrum, with backing organ and 80s-style electric guitar always present. Grant’s vocals sound somewhat similar to Warren Zevon or John Linnell from The Might Be Giants. While he only plays acoustic guitar on this album, the parts he has written for organ and electric guitar (Doug Green) as well as drums (Keith Larsen) are well-composed and bring a full sound to the music. By the third song, Edge of the World, the music can get a bit redundant, but the point of this album is clearly to highlight the lyrics and the feelings Grant was working through when he wrote them. In that case, mission accomplished. Not since Jeff Buckley has there been such a personal and honest storyteller in indie rock.
My Depression is Always Trying to Kill Me closes with Sweet Addiction, another highlight of the EP. Interesting guitar work from Doug Green and literally tear-jerking lyrics from Grant make this song the most gut-wrenchingly personal track on an album full of personal tracks. Describing the withdrawal process and the coming into focus of his underlying depression in poetic detail, this song is almost as graphic as the withdrawal scene in Trainspotting, but with Vince Grant’s amazing lyrics, there are no visuals needed.
By telling his story in such detail and being so honest about his mental struggles, Vince Grant has started a very important purging process for himself and created an incredible body of work with My Depression is Always Trying to Kill Me. By releasing it, he has shown even more courage in exposing this often hidden and discounted mental illness and combating the stigmas surrounding it. This album could serve to give hope to many people struggling with the same problems. A link to a 24/7 hotline for anyone in the U.S. dealing with mental illness or with a loved one who is struggling is posted below in “Sources” along with streaming and purchase links to Vince Grant’s album.
Review by Layla Klamt