Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
In a bit of email miscommunication, rather me being less clear than I could have been with a question, Greater Varsa lead singer and guitarist George Etheridge gave me a dissertation of the three members of the Canterbury, England, band. With just a few short sentences, he told me so much about who they are as people and all of it confirmed who I pictured them to be, when listening to their swoony and drafty songs. Twice in the email, he reminded that they are "very, very shy and nervous on stage," but that it is almost ideal and what the music calls for. It's as if they couldn't have been much luckier with their fright and their social deficiencies - that they might actually be advantages. They sure do seem like they are, especially on a song such as "You And I," heard on this session, taped in Crouch End, London. Etheridge goes on to mention that, "We love the 50s 60s sound, music you can imagine being played at a prom, we love the idea of writing songs with that kind of sound," and just as I read that line, it was as if I'd been struck right between the eyes by a swung board. This idea of the theme music for a prom - a prom of yesteryear, mind you, because proms these days are going to have plenty of Katy Perry and Ne-Yo, whether any of us like it or not - was exactly what came to mind, listening to them for the first time.
Etheridge, bassist Billy Cordes and drummer James Price-Harper create an atmosphere that nearly tips over with nervous anticipation and something that's hard not to peg as an innocent and awkward attraction to someone else, someone they might have pinned a corsage on earlier in the evening, someone they might be swaying next to right now. Etheridge sings, "Kiss me on the cheek and only the cheek, for now," and then wonders what's happening to him, what's taking over, what any of these strange feelings he's having mean.
These are moments of peculiar resistance, when most of the fibers in a body are wanting, wanting, wanting and still there is a hesitation to just reaching out and grabbing that sweaty palm, or bringing the hips closer to yours. We are thrown into the impassioned mind of two people who don't quite get what's happening. There's no blueprint and there are no tells to pick up on. It's a fling with arbitrary desire and need and that can scare the daylights out of anyone. We can just try to waltz through the insecurities.