Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Peter Broderick - Colours of the Night (2015)

Considering 2012 brought the release of not only one but two albums from multi-instrumentalist/composer Peter Broderick in http://www.itstartshear.com and These Walls Of Mine, the prospect of a couple years passing before the release of another solo album from the man would not have been regarded as much of a surprise to me if I didn't know from experience that Broderick is an unstoppable work house. Although Broderick has certainly not been keeping quiet all this time, from his collaboration with his sister Heather Woods Broderick for Broderick & Broderick or most recent team up with Greg Haines for Greg Gives Peter Space, it was only upon reading the press materials for his latest album Colours of the Night that I learned that Broderick was sidelined for a bit of time that found him relocating from Berlin back to his native Pacific Northwest. True to everything I've come to expect from Peter Broderick however, it didn't take him too long to get back on his feet - starting a studio called The Sparkle in his new Oregon digs that found him producing his sister's latest solo album Glider as well as finding his way onto new albums from Sharon Van Etten and Alela Diane, embarking on new creative projects like La Nuit with FĂ©licia Atkinson.

Colours of the Night follows Peter Broderick's growing characteristic ability to metamorphose between albums. Though on his latest album Broderick had a little bit of help in the form of a residency in Lucerne, Switzerland that found Broderick collaborating with a live backing band and producer Timo Keller. While it may not be such a noteworthy shift for another artist, for Broderick who's largely responsible for providing the majority of sounds and instruments on his albums, it's a pretty thrilling change of pace that simultaneously highlights and loosens the reigns of Broderick's creative voice. Broderick arrived with song ideas and even several completed songs he'd been working with for years and allowed Timo and his gaggle of locally sourced musicians to alter them in an organic way that speaks to Broderick's ever present spirit of collaboration.

It's perhaps to a bit strange to think that "Red Earh" was one of the only songs written while Broderick was in Lucerne or that Broderick had come in with some songs that were actually uite old like "Colours of the Night" which Broderick has been making changes to since late adolescence considering how the subject matter for a lot of the songs seem to fit so wonderfully together in that particular time and place. Peter Broderick has a knack for songs that manage to find universal appeal while being almost covertly personal. Take "Get On With Your Life" which goes from the intimately specific to less claustrophobically broad as it develops. While on his past solo albums Broderick was able to invoke these feelings of intimacy by drawing specifically from his life - most notably through the use of his father's song or his sister's vocals, on Colours of the Night has a creative homecoming of sorts, ironically far away from either home Broderick has known throughout the years and with so many strange hands in the pot. The album manages to run the full spectrum of emotions and as you go from one side of the album to the other, there's a sense of actually identifying with Peter Broderick's emotionally as he let's the listener into his headspace perhaps more than he has in recent efforts. The results are beautiful and occasionally sad but ultimately, especially in the case of "Our Best" and "More and More", the last lyrical effort on the 10 track album, emphatically hopeful.

Listening to Colours of the Night I couldn't help but recall Arthur Russell and his knack for genre-hopping. Peter Broderick has always been adept at shifting gears and pursuing unexpected-though-aurally-rewarding paths but on Colours of the Night, Broderick achieves a heightened level of declassification. The album manages to invoke a cohesive clarity despite it's varying stylistic choices and genre influences from the afro-pop shuffle of the Peter Gabriel-esque title track to the sparse vocal free fall of "If I Sinned" to the folkier turns of "The Recollection" and "Our Best". Colours of the Night manages to both recall elements of Broderick's creative past while also forgoing them for something totally other. It's a collection of songs that manages to embody both Broderick's earnest lyricism and his experimentalism without sacrificing the beauty of the arrangement.

Peter Broderick's Colours of the Night is out now on Bella Union.

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