The first time I heard “So Long Moby Dick,” by Grandpa Was a Lion I fell in love. It was something instant, one of those love at first listening type of moments that are far too rare. I immediately downloaded The Whalestoe Tapes and proceeded to fall in love even deeper. I felt like I was 16 all over again and had found something so precious that I had zero intention of letting it go.
Grandpa Was a Lion is Justin D’Onofrio – no one else, just him. His music is gorgeously heartbreaking, poignantly worded lyric after lyric, and is somewhere between a clear acoustic ballad and a fuzzy dream from which you don’t want to wake up. Mixed in among the loops and distortions is his patient drawl of a voice that sounds the way you’d expect a lazy summer day to sound if it could speak.
The Whalestoe Tapes in its entirety is like a well-needed massage for the ear canal. “Mobile Alabama Blues,” is a slow, as if thick with molasses song that compliments D’Onofrio’s voice perfectly. But as an NYC lass, my favorite on the album has to be “New York City” – a sweet lullaby heavy with emotion that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
Like a lot of bands out there who have yet to be discovered by a label, D’Onofrio’s music is up on Bandcamp for free. It sort of makes you feel like you’re stealing because it’s that good. And just a couple days ago on June 12th, he released American Splendor EP - a collection of covers he recorded in New York two years ago – which is also available on Bandcamp.
As of yet, Grandpa Was a Lion doesn’t have any shows planned, but considering all this music output, one has to figure at least a mini-tour isn’t too far off.
By: Amanda Chatel
“Mississippi Dreams” from The Whalestoe Tapes: