Wednesday, 22 October 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: Peter Broderick - Home

Imagine the scene: By the bar, half-full glasses of cloudy, imported beer clink buoyantly while a rabble of private-school tailored voices pay no heed to the sweet rhythmic simplicity that flickers on stage. From the crowd, an angrily bellowed “shush” forces its way back but so immersed in idle-chatter are the antagonists that these protestations are barely acknowledged. And there he is - a stool sitting Peter Broderick - with only a few fey melodies and a set of hopeful vignettes to conquer those there not only to be seen but also to be heard.

A hypothetical setting this may be but it’s a scenario Broderick’s no doubt faced on numerous occasions. See, the Portland born - now Copenhagen-dwelling - troubadour doesn’t exactly demand attention. In fact so reticent is the sound of new record Home you’re left with the impression a one-punter gig would have this shy-away mewer shaking like a frost-bitten rattlesnake. But what the multi-instrumental 21 year old lacks in fortitude he more than makes up for in charm.

Rather than forcing its way into the conscience, Home slowly glides through the eardrums; fluttering heart strings and quivering neck-hairs on its way to the stomach’s pit where it radiates a warm, omnipresent glow. It’s a record of deep-seated imagination and spark, where bubbling emotions rise to the fore and entangle amidst a ream of melancholic piano chimes and withering string plucks.

Opening gambit ‘Games’ is a perfect introduction to this aural resplendence, resonating like a sweetly intended Chinese whisper imbued with snail-paced folk strums and an incoherent, soothing hymnal chant. Follow-up ‘And It’s Alright’ is equally hypnotic; a trinket of understated delight crafted by cloth-eared percussion and hand-picked guitar that creates a blushing mattress upon which Broderick’s spectral vocal bleeds reassurance.

By now images of the dreary Jose Gonzalez are likely skimming through your grey matter like a dull, leaden rock and, for sure, elements of such picture perfect song-writing lie in the lethargic ‘With Notes In My Ear’. But Broderik’s scope of song and depth of musicianship transcends such limited confines; flourishing in a world where sublime, evocative paean’s like ‘Not At Home’ and - the spellbinding - ‘Maps’ can spiral from brittle folk tip-toeing to texturised thunderstorms of strum and symbol in the blink of a peeper.

Even in his more languid moments, Broderick illicits a dreamy navigation - impaling weeping keys on choral harmonies to startling effect during closing number ‘Games Again’ - and it’s here where parallels between Home and the output of Sufjan Stevens are concreted. For this is a record that proves mere song-penning is not enough for Peter Broderick. Instead, every element, every creaking sonic must lay the foundation for the intricate construction of one glorious, tantalising soundscape. And for that reason, we should all stand up and pay attention.

Originally published here at my new home. Oh and here's a video....

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