Peter Bruntnell — „Journey to the Sun“ (June 11th, 2021)
• Celovečerní ‚lockdown¬sbírka‘ melancholické introspekce s působivým novým hudebním přírůstkem. Zavzpomínejme si však teď na minulá alba díky dvěma písním „By The Time My Head Gets To Phoenix“ z alba „Normal For Bridgewater“ (1999) a „King of Madrid“ z jeho desátého alba „King of Madrid“ (May 24, 2019).
Born: 26 January 1962, Wellington, New Zealand
Origin: Kingston upon Thames, England
Style: Country Rock, Folk Rock, Indie Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Pop Rock
Album release: June 11th, 2021
Record Label: Domestico Records/Blue Rose Records
01. Dandelion 5:39
02. Lucifer Morning Star 3:52
03. Runaway Car 4:46
04. The Antwerp Effect 1:20
05. Wild Mountain Thyme 3:29
06. Heart of Straw 4:25
07. You’d Make a Great Widow 5:22
08. Dharma Liar 8:04
09. Moon Committee 1:50
10. Merrion 4:15
11. Waiting for Clive 2:37
12. Mutha 3:18
• Rolling Stone magazine once declared Peter Bruntnell to be ‘one of England’s best kept musical secrets’. England has thus far successfully managed to keep Pete a secret for all this time, even from itself. ‘Maybe this will be the album to finally give him the worldwide superstar recognition he deserves!’, enthused every other Peter Bruntnell album review from the last 20+ years, with an admirably unwavering optimism. ‘If we lived in a just world, Peter Bruntnell would by now be in the middle of his third or fourth global arena tour, his biggest worry working out how to courier his latest armful of Grammy awards back to the UK so his butler could have them installed in the west wing of mansion by the time he got home,’ said a feature in The Guardian in 2016, intent on letting the cat out of the bag, but failing miserably. Needless to say, we don’t live in a just world and Peter Bruntnell is still having to get by without a butler. Peter’s new album, Journey To The Sun, will do little to dispel this fantasy of world domination, but it remains unlikely to become in any way a reality. He will remain the secret singer~songwriter, lauded by the likes of Kathleen Edwards, The Delines, Rumer, various members of R.E.M., Son Volt and whatever the collective noun is for several large real ale festivals full of mainly manly middle~aged music geeks. Journey To The Sun has more than a whiff of death, longing, leaving & regret — all the cheer you’d expect from a record written and recorded amidst lockdown — with the lack of live shows taking its toll on Pete, it brought about the purchase of a new synthesiser, subsequently followed by a bouzouki. This has resulted in an album with more synth than your average Americana fan would knowingly expose themselves to. Half of the lyrics to the new songs are credited as having been co~written between Pete and his mysterious — possibly imaginary — long time collaborator, Bill Ritchie. The album was recorded and self~produced at Pete’s home in Devon. ‘Self~produced’ and ‘recorded at home’ being the ultimate buzz words in this quest for a hit record. It features Pete playing the majority of the instruments, aided only by mastering engineer Peter Linnane adding various vintage keyboards along with Iain Sloan, who was invited to add pedal steel to Dharma Liar.
Lyndon Bolton ⌊June 16, 2021⌋ Score: 9/10
• For his 12th album, Journey to the Sun Peter Bruntnell offers profoundly contemplative, lucid songwriting that is melodically rich and beautifully produced. If anyone can capture the isolation and introspection brought about by months of lockdown Bruntnell can. He plays most of the instruments with the valuable keyboard contribution from Iain Sloan and Peter Linnane, who also engineered the album, and long~time co~writer Bill Ritchie. Two notable additions are Bruntnell’s recently acquired synthesiser and a bouzouki. Fear not, he has not gone prog but returns to his customary bleak analysis of the human condition with emphasis on regret, death and longing. Once again we ask ourselves why is Peter Bruntnell, one of the finest exponents of Americana this side of the pond, not more widely recognised for his consistent genius?
• Bruntnell wastes little time in putting his new toys to great effect. A distant echoing bazouki to opener ‘Dandelion’ makes way for his familiar rasp as he rues, “those who thought time could be bought, are sleeping underground” accompanying the chill warning, “We are not too young to die.” The tempo is suitably funereal.
• A cheerier sounding synth starts off ‘Lucifer Morning Star’, complemented by a gentle acoustic strum that creates a lighter pop vibe to mask deeper feelings of guilt and blame. The relentlessness of ‘Runaway Car’, urges an escape from endless past mistakes, “you’ve got to run while you still can/making the same mistakes over and over again”. The synth swirls into a guitar solo that sounds very CSNY.
• The album contains two instrumentals and one cover. A writer of Bruntnell’s ability does not need to pad out his records because there is certainly not a dud track here. Rather the instrumentals offer a break from the bleakness of the lyrics, Both ‘The Antwerp Effect’ and ‘Moon Committee’ are short, slightly hypnotic interludes, each a Brian Eno moment perhaps? Everyone knows ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ to which Bruntnell gives a wistful sheen.
• The album’s title appears in ‘Heart of Straw’ where “flowers and sweet salutations will be sent by some/ for a vague but necessary journey to the sun”. The breaks between verses only amplify the layers of remorse.
• Bruntnell gives full vent to his new synth on ‘You’d Make a Good Widow’ with a cosmic intro that would do justice to Hawkwind. From that flourish emerges a more typical rendition of Bruntnell’s Americana, reflective and very dark. ‘Merrion’ is another superb example of his craft. Again, there is an underlying menace, not towards anyone in particular but more self~critical. Orchestral layers and harmonies give ‘Dharma Liar’ a hymnal quality while ’Waiting For Clive’ is the album’s nadir, not in terms of quality but mood. Closing out this gem of a record is ‘Mutha’, whose gentler piano line suggests happier times to come or is that wishful thinking?
• Peter Bruntnell is a songwriter eminently qualified to probe the lockdown psyche and on ‘Journey to the Sun’ he mines deep seams of contrition. Is it too much to hope that, finally, this record might bring him the long~overdue recognition he deserves?