CDs: Peter Walker - Landed
By Chris Stum
It’s not everyday that you find a young,
aspiring solo artist who is fortunate enough to work with musicians from
bands such as R.E.M, Beck, and Wilco, to just name a few. What’s even more
unheard of is the same solo artist working with a few well-known producers
who have created hits for Third Eye Blind, The Donna’s and The Thrills,
once again, just naming a few. Some may start to wonder who is this person,
and why haven’t I heard of them? Folks, meet Peter Walker, a young gent
from San Francisco, California who has achieved and earned all of the aforementioned
for just his debut album.
The album is titled "Landed" (Dangerbird),
and packs numerous influences ranging from Neil Young and Crazy Horse,
The Replacements, maybe throw in the Jayhawks for good measure. Just add
a bottle of whiskey and some cigarette’s son, then you’ve come full circle.
"Landed" was produced by Tony Hoffer (The Thrills, Beck) and Jason Carmer
(Third Eye Blind, The Donnas) and covers a full spectrum of dark sounds,
styles and instruments. What makes the music of Peter Walker so special
however, is that he doesn’t wear his influences on his sleeve, easier said
than done. Sure, you can hear Crazy Horse and Wilco in his music, but what
Peter does with these influences will make the listeners ear immune to
any obvious comparisons.
"Landed" starts out bearing a hearty helping
of straight forward American rock with a tune called "I’m Through." Although
Walker may not have anything to prove to anyone, he shows off his gritty
vocal style while busting through the first chorus stating "I’ve tried
to give up all I had for you." He’s got me hooked right away, and
I’m already starting to see the effects of producer Tony Hoffer with a
great fuzz guitar solo right in the middle of the song. I know I’m in for
a treat now. This formula is repeated on a song called "I Came Around,"
a dark, and dirty track taking you waist deep into the mind of someone
struggling with a relationship while musically treading in The Jesus And
Mary Chain territory. The jangle pop feel of "Invitation" turns the album
on a bit of a different course. You start to see not only a songwriter,
but also a storyteller, offering up soundtracks describing despair and
broken relationships in one’s life. "Neighbor" fits right in with this
concept, opening with the line; "There was a man in love with his neighbor.
He didn’t know her name." The story in "Neighbor" is portrayed not only
through the vocals but with piano, and guitar feedback. No doubt, an ode
to Crazy Horse’s "Sleeps With Angels."
The musicians who played on the album include;
Walker on lead vocals, guitar, and piano, Joey Waronker on drums (REM),
Jay Bennet on guitar and keys (Wilco), and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck)
picking up bass guitar duties. You can hear what these players brought
to the table with the percussive and keyboard driven "Different Kind Of
Romance." The guitar driven "Pluto" finds Jay Bennet and Walker weaving
a web of riffs, adding depth and a wide variety of sounds to get the point
across. What really caught my ear however was a song called "Dream Away."
The arrangement of the instruments in "Dream Away" is enough to make any
Byrd’s fan jealous, but the catch of the song is by far the chorus. With
lush melodies and a more laid back feel, "Dream Away" is one of those songs
where you can insert "Your Name Here" anywhere in the song and make it
relate. Just one of the many pro’s about this album is that it is easy
to understand, simple and a lot of fun to listen to. And I can’t forget
about a great sax solo in "Gone Away," once again, fitting right into the
song and the complete content of the album. Producers Hoffer and Carmer
really created a work of art here, it’s obvious now that Walker has deserved
all the personnel who lent their talents on this record.
Classify "Landed" however you would like.
Maybe Adult Alternative, possibly Alt Country. As far as I’m concerned,
albums like this completely do away with any and all tags. Peter Walker
has combined all of his influences into one voice and has created an extremely
well rounded album. With this effort, it’s apparent that Walker has landed
and is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Walker - Landed
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