Some artists’ LPs explore their experiences, memorable eras, & people they’ve met, then it’s dressed up in melodies that express their work.
On Alice Peacock’s Sept. 20th release Minnesota – she simply sculpts songs about her life & beloved home state. Tunes of understanding love, personal spirituality, parenthood, growing older (or should I say more mature?), awareness, the fragility of life, to know where you came from, who you are & where you belong. Subjects not often covered in depth by others. Not with this emotion. Kudos for challenging memoirs.
Most tunes are simple. Melodic explorations from a personal perspective. No heavy-word-wizardry Joni Mitchell poetry. No wailing lead guitar. No dark whimsical journeys – except for the old-fashioned vaudevillian inspired “Paranoid” with its Dixieland-horns. Peacock’s sultry voice is in sharp contrast to the melody, but it certainly greases its atmospheric wheel.
There’s a variety of musicians throughout the collection but mostly the players are Alice (vocal and acoustic guitar), Chris Donohue upright piano, Phil Madeira, Wurlitzer Piano, melodica. Bryan Owings – drums. The horns/banjo — all John Painter.
What Ms. Peacock shapes on this effort is a rich vocal style — as she often does. What Sheryl Crow should be doing but doesn’t have the pipes for. Alice is in a comfortable arena where Alison Moorer (“Cold in California”), resides with the former Cindy Bullens (all of “Somewhere Between Heaven & Earth”), & the remarkable Jennifer Warnes (“The Whole of the Moon,” “First We Take Manhattan”).
The material is varied & good with diversity expressive throughout. Alice’s “Isn’t That Me & You,” written with songwriter John Vezner – is a slow, value-added piece worthy of classic songbooks of the past. This could be covered by any number of jazz or MOR singers as well. The adaptability of the melody to other genres is evident.
The lullaby-like “Free & Wild,” in a deeper toned voice is reminiscent of pop singer Lulu (“To Sir, With Love”) who records & sings today in a wonderfully deep voice, no sugar added. This is a beautiful song — parent talking to a child. It reminded me of the Bullens’ LP made after the death of her 11-year old daughter (to cancer). Every song poignant, melodic, powerful — as this Peacock track.
The songs are standard fare – but it’s the sheer delight of each that dazzles. How they were produced & performed. It’s what makes it satisfying. Will Kimbrough’s tight guitar lines & Alice’s vocal authority on “Your Own Backyard” could segue nicely into Elvis Presley’s “Clean Up Your Own Backyard (1968).
James Hollihan (Gut String guitar) on “Minnesota,” & Phil Madeira (lap steel & Wurlitzer) dominate here. It’s mindful of the Moorer track “Cold in California.” Not that they sound the same – they don’t. They’re from the same heartfelt source. Alice’s warm vocal — sincere & potent. Tugs at the heartstrings. It has substance. Alice Peacock has always been an artist of deep musical breadth & each LP is worth exploring.
“God Be Near Me,” — closes the album. Alice approaches the same reverent strength of the Beach Boys’ classic “God Only Knows.” John Painter’s horns, the background singers — they sweep without intruding. Exceptional & lovely.
This LP is a testament to memories & special moments, the past, aging gracefully, & nature.
Love doesn’t always come with romance. Alice Peacock embraces this through her art – & we are the beneficiaries.
Produced by Phil Madeira. Available at her website: https://www.alicepeacock.com/