Tom Grant: Lip Service

Tom Grant’s Lip Service (Shanachie 5037; 47:56) is highlighted by a surprisingly eloquent piano and acoustic bass read of the Beatles’ pathos-packed “For No One.” Stark and gentle, this piece gives Grant a chance to exercise his full interpretive range-and the results are stellar. Unfortunately, one of the reasons this piece is so surprising and moving is that the balance of Lip Service is filled with the souped-up, dinging, mid-tempo syrupy synthesizer over-arrangements we’ve heard thousands of times. These hyper pseudo-modern elements cover Grant’s more low-key, introspective piano work on pieces like “Love and Desire” and “Down the Road.” Grant does steal his moments-including some stiff-fingered sparkle on the lively “If You Want Me to Stay,” backed by crisp horn solos-but these moments are too far between to make Lip Service recommendable. An arranger who can build structure around Grant’s particular brand of sensitive piano work would probably produce an excellent follow-up.