Peter Broderick – How They Are
Posted In: Alex Gibson, Bella Union, How They Are, HUSH Records, Peter Broderick, Peter Broderick - How They Are
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The new album from Peter Broderick, How They Are, is the result of an enforced convalescence during the recording of another…
It’s an exercise in concise, direct simplicity, and is one of the best arguments against overproduction you will ever hear. As mentioned, whilst Broderick was recording his forthcoming album he was forced to take a number of months off to recover from complications from knee surgery. The record fully tracked, enforced inactivity prompted a creative burst separate to the project at hand, a number of songs worked up from words to music.
Due to the relative simplicity of the material, it was then all tracked in ONE DAY in a studio in Portland, Oregon, put down live to tape after Broderick was well enough to return to activity.
The results are amazing in a number of respects – the musicianship is incredible, with some quite moving piano work. The vocals are strong without being overwrought. The production has character in spades – lots of shuffling and clunking around before and after takes, and a reassuring hum from the tape flows through the album, segueing the tracks together. The instruments are captured cleanly with a lot of natural sounding reverb, and in some instances you can seemingly hear the fingers on the keys and the strings.
Opener “Sideline” sets the tone – a simple piano and vocal with heft and impact.
“Human Eyeballs On Toast” is, in spite its distinctive name, an engaging and melodic piece with a memorable lilting piano melody. The resonance of the piano sound is fantastic, fairly booming and ringing almost above the vocals.
“Guilt’s Tune” introduces the guitar, which is also captured with great care. More of a short story or spoken word exercise with accompaniment, a good break in tone from the previous two tracks.
“When I’m Out” is a more maudlin outing, bit of a saloon haunter. Stunning. Well suited to late nights or early mornings.
“With A Key” showcases the piano sound again, with chiming notes ringing out in the corners. I’m listening so intently to the playing that it’s almost a shock when the vocals drop in. Restrained and expansive, it’s a fitting penultimate statement.
Closer “Hello To Nils” is an almost bluesy guitar number, apparently a shout out to his producer Nils Frahm. The tone is playful, an upbeat number dealing with the travel of the itinerant musician.
The project as a whole is easy to connect with – it’s possible appreciate on multiple levels, vocally, lyrically, musically and in production. It’s interesting without knowing its genesis, and worthy of further consideration after discovering it.
The release with the album mentions comparisons by press to Bon Iver, Simon and Garfunkel and Nick Drake; and these would be the common touchstones used to describe his work to others. The focus on his work as a folk troubadour does sell it short in some way, as there’s a lot of other depth on display.
I was quite surprised at how quickly it won me over, and I have no doubt that I’ll be returning to listen to it years later. If this an indication of his forthcoming production, the one interrupted by his enforced break, I literally cannot wait.
-Review by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio