Musings about music.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Peasant - Shady Retreat

In the beginning of 2009 I got completely addicted to the television show United States of Tara. I'm a pretty big Diablo Cody fan and I've been a fan of Toni Collette since my freshman year of college when I found someone's copy of Muriel's Wedding under a couch and watched it. But I digress...

Not only did I love the writing and the acting on USoT but I fell in love with the music. From the opening number, which is a short piece by Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree, I was hooked.

It featured some songs by little known artists that I already enjoyed like The Kills (Cheap and Cheerful), The Helio Sequence (Keep Your Eyes Ahead), The Eels, Andrew Bird, and Bon Iver. This show also helped me discover some great artists I had never heard of and I ended up LOVING them. It's where I discovered Dawn Landes (Straight Lines), Kat Edmonson (Lucky), Liam Finn (Second Chance), and Peasant (Fine Is Fine).

The second the guitar of Fine Is Fine started I was in love with it. I searched and searched to find out who it was. No one seemed to know, I finally ended up writing to Showtime to get the information which I then posted on a TV/commercial music blog I follow. I was happy to discover that Peasant, which is really a young man named Damien DeRose, was from Doylestown, PA which is pretty close to me.

I still haven't gotten a chance to see him perform live but I am hoping to correct that later this year. As soon as I found out who the performer was I bought his LP On The Ground. If you're not familiar with his music it's an excellent starting place. I probably listened to the album front to back over 30 times, he's got a very soothing voice and the guitar melodies are really lovely.

I hadn't seen anything posted about a new album until very recently. In late January I saw mention that Paper Garden Records would be releasing a new Peasant album in the beginning of March.

Well, it is now the beginning of March and I've finally gotten my hands on my copy of Shady Retreat. The lead track, Thinking, is a really nice foundation to start with. I dig the use of shakers as the only percussion instruments in it and while the lyrics aren't as moving for me as his previous work the sound is still really nice.

The rest of the songs on the album blend together really nice. Peasant frequently uses hushed vocals that create a sense of intimacy, making you want to lean in and hear each delicate note. A trait used in bands with a similar sound such as Iron & Wine and Bon Iver.

In Pry Peasant picks up the pace a little bit and the vocals are not quite as faint. Like the majority of the album, and his previous work, the main focus of Shady Retreat is heartbreak and this track is no exception with phrases like "Close all your books, and keep up your looks, that got you as far as they did." And "what can I say, well I don't want to pry but I think that somethin' is wrong, and what can I do when I'm lookin' at you and you're cryin' and callin' my name."

The first single from the album is called The End and it's mix of piano, guitar twang, and vocals that give off a Simon and Garfunkle vibe that really works for him.

My favorite track on the album is Into The Woods, which manages to have a melody whose tendrils weave between haunting and catchy effortlessly.

I like every song on this album and it's a solid release from a very promising young musician. My only complaint would be that the songs often sound so similar, and are so short, they blend together just a little too much. In addition I felt that the lyrics were not quite as meaningful as they were on his last album. That being said it's well worth purchasing if you are a fan of similar music.

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