Album Reviews

Peter Broderick – Home

(Bella Union) UK release date: 20 October 2008

At the time of this release, Peter Broderick is just 21 years old. This is impressive because when it comes to folk and country he has his talented fingers in a lot of musical pies. His ability to play virtually anything with strings more than just ‘competently’ has earned him respect with a wide variety of musicians. His gorgeous voice probably helps too.

Studio sessions with artists such as M Ward, Zooey Deschanel and Dolorean are just some of his achievements. A year ago, leaving his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Broderick took a trans-USA, trans-Atlantic and then trans-Europe jump to Copenhagen, in order to join Danish ensemble Efterklang. ‘Bold career move’ is perhaps an understatement. He has subsequently honed his skill touring with said band for most of the past twelve months.

But his joyous travels and busy schedule have not stopped him from scraping together 10 tracks of introvert acoustic-folk balladry. In fact ‘scraping’ instantly gives off the wrong impression, for this is a debut of surprising maturity and strength. These are songs of quiet reflection and well penned subtlety.

From the blissful choral opening of Games, the reassuringly homely guitar of With The Notes In My Ears and the aching nostalgia of And It’s Alright it sounds as if Pete could be onto something masterful. Ignoring the fact that the latter starts out like an Enrique Inglesias B-side, this is a hat-trick of highlights that the rest of the album struggles to keep up with.

The tentatively paced Esbern Snares Gade 11, 2tv is a gorgeous instrumental. Below It is a concoction of interlocking vocals and spiralling guitar lines thrown together in mesmeric fashion. Sickness, Bury hands us a vox-free slab of gamelan styled build-up before dropping to the melancholy twang of Broderick’s 6-string and the sorrowful but warm tones of a multi-tracked choir (yeah, it’s all Pete).

All in all, the record is as richly decorated as a Christmas-eve Debenhams. The choir of Peters is just one detail, packing more harmonies than a Bach chorale. Sparingly applied but effective orchestral strings also shine out. The quality of the percussion is, however, questionable. Something becomes tangibly laboured when the echoing claps and tambourine come galloping into action half-way through the second track. By the time the glorious finale gets underway a few minutes later, complete with strings and choir to save the day, such petty grumblings can be set aside.

Nevertheless, the fact they even existed in the first place is a problem. Its small issues like this that prevent Home from totally reaching Peter Broderick’s full potential. All in all it’s a very minimalist affair, and many listeners will no doubt find repeated listens yield a wealth of pleasures and delight. Unfortunately for the rest the closing tracks could prove a disappointing anti-climax in contrast to Home’s superb opening. This is a title worth picking up though. As excitingly promising a solo debut as any.

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