"It's rare to hear a young singer with such control and understated soulfulness, and even more rare to hear a harp provide such a deep percussive groove. I was immediately captivated by her sound," Grammy-winner Marc Cohn raved when he first heard Gillian Grassie perform. Originally a native of Germantown, Philadelphia and graduate of Bryn Mawr College, where she studied Creative Writing and Comparative Literature, Gillian has made a new home for herself in the vibrant art scene of Berlin, Germany, where she’s been based for the past three years. In that time she’s toured in more than a dozen countries and converted countless harp skeptics into devout followers.
Her latest release, The Woodlands Sessions, is a collection of songs recorded live at the Woodlands Historic Mansion in West Philly over two visits back to the city of brotherly love. The EP marks a new maturation of Gillian’s sound, paring down the filigree of her harp parts to make space for the dreamy swells of Ross Bellenoit’s electric guitar, with Matt Scarano’s drum and Ryan Kuhn’s bass weaving a sparse, atmospheric backdrop for her exceptionally expressive voice to croon and speak-sing unpretentiously poetic lyrics about everything from long distance devotion (“it was a quiet kinda sadness / when the pillow lost your scent / so ‘till you come here next, my darling / I’ll hold my blessings close / cause you only get this kinda missing / when you’ve had something really good” –Quiet Kinda) to language barriers ( “my words are tired / they buckle at the knee / finding all the corners / and crashing into things” –The Knee).
Although she’s sold out listening rooms from Berlin to Siberia, Gillian delights in bringing the harp to unconventional places. She is equally comfortable at a private gala for HRH Prince Albert of Monaco as she is opening for Amanda Palmer in a repurposed barn in rural Germany, or even giving an impromptu concert on a moving train car in Mumbai, India. One fan described her show as "an awesome combination of Pippi Longstocking, drinking buddy, and the Mata Hari. Trust me, you never saw anything like this.” For fans of Bon Iver, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Feist.