Peter Broderick – (Bella Union)

Peter Broderick returns with his follow-up vocal album to debut Home in 2008, and shows the influence of his copious instrumental and soundtrack work in the interim, with (he tells us) no restrictions placed on arrangements or sonic direction this time.

Straightaway I am piano has an air of Music for Confluence (one of PB’s dance soundtrack commissions – more here) about it, in its gentle foundation of swinging violin. That’s followed quickly by A tribute to our letter writing days, the lovely group choral backdrop the perfect setting for its communal nostalgia. At this point, I began to form the impression that the album lacked the immediacy or the arresting beauty of Home. However, he then hits on a fascinating new direction on the title track, creating a backbeat from an insistent picked electric guitar figure and some whipcrack guitar effect decay. Later in the same tune, there’s a gorgeous, ascending violins-with-choir section.

The song also contains the line “maybe you can make one big everything by combining everything”, something that could stand for his manifesto (in a different setting you could imagine it coming from the mouth of one James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem). Personally, I would have loved to hear more in this vein, but having said that there are still many subtle treasures to be found. Like the lovely drunken feel to the guitar line on Bad words; the beautiful, uplifting arrangement of Colin; With the notes on fire, a lilting folk tune which finds space for a bongo breakdown with a rap over it; and the intriguing 8 minute centrepiece Asleep, with its wide open spaces, whispering voices and slow-build folk orchestra around the swelling gospel refrain, “where is your body ”.

Despite a few minor misgivings, it’s impossible not to love the man or this album. Just leave your preconceptions at the door, it’s another triumph.

*And of course, PB strikes more new ground by making all the album artwork and sleevenotes freely available on the album website. Take that Metallica. What a legend.


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