[Release date 05.10.18]
For some reason, Texas based indie-folk singer songwriter Vanessa Peters’ last album – The Burden Of Unshakeable Proof (2016) seems to have bypassed GRTR! But a quick listen on bandcamp.com suggests it was a welcome return to her late 1980s/early 1990s Maria McKee, Aimee Mann, Natalie Merchant-style of songwriting after the somewhat underwhelming With The Sentinals (2015) – a restrained and ‘laid back’ affair with a Danish Americana band.
The good news is that her latest offering – Foxhole Prayers – is perhaps her strongest and most consistent album yet. Thematically inspired by the corruption and self-indulgence that permeated The Great Gatsby, it sees her shine a lyrical light on the populist politics and the unrest, hatred and violence of the modern world, tempered by the need to stay positive in these troubled times.
The production by Rip Rowan (keys) and John Dufilho (drums) puts Peters’ vocals/lyrics firmly centre stage as, supported by long term collaborator Joe Reyes and Chris Holt (Don Henley) on electric guitars, Jason Garner (bass), and bassist Andy Lester, the set effortlessly weaves modern electronic elements with more familiar acoustic and rock arrangements.
The result is Peters’ most accessible release to date, her sensual vocals, in particular delivered with an almost effortless cool that at various moments echo the timbres of the likes of Karen Carpenter and Lana Del Ray.
Highlights include the sumptuous ‘Before It Falls Apart’, the infectious, upbeat, toe tapping ‘Lucky’, the haunting beauty of ‘Just One Of Them’, the acerbic but timeless ‘Carnival Barker’, and poisonous’ Trolls’.
Once again, Peters’ eschews the banjo, mandolin, pedal steel trappings of most current singer songwriter releases, resulting in a refreshing retro ‘adult pop’ album that is not only easy on the ear, but one that has a timeless depth and quality. More please. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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