Vanessa Peters – Modern Age
Performing for over a decade Vanessa Peters’ latest CD Modern Age (Idol Records-Drops April 23) was recorded remotely in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy & Dallas with plenty of energy. An attempt to create a classic rock album. The songs possess a modicum of vibrant grungy guitar runs with notes aptly controlled. Ms. Peters displays a strong voice surrounded by routine rock instrumentation — at times pedestrian. Maybe they try too hard.
By cut 4 “Valley of Ashes,” there are no surprises. There’s competent musicianship, but the pimple on the cheek of their delivery is a lack of ingenuity. The well-written songs are performed clean but too homogenized & pasteurized that strips all the grit & personality from the potentially rock-engaging songs. The band’s locked into a formidable new-wave/rock manner that lacks a blues edge needed for this music.
Vanessa sings extremely well but the tonality succumbs to an unemotive style. No phrasing qualities just straight-ahead impressive singing with little regard to the importance of words. I think Ms. Peters focused on the delivery of the songs with steely defiance — instead of stylization.
The CD was to meant to be intense yet sensitive; both angry & hopeful. But there’s too much embellishment. The producer should’ve stepped in. Her lyrics are highly regarded, but I found the printed lyrics filled with contemporary songwriting cliches. She has an ability. She isn’t shallow. Circumstances may have interfered.
“The Weight of This,” is good with a better vocal application. It’s one of the best songs despite a flurry of cliché lines. Many songs have a Blondie, Pretenders, Robin Lane & the Chartbusters influence. Vanessa’s vocals are powerful but flatline with no emphasis on keywords, no intonation, or added drama to her range.
“Never Really Gone,” improves but the vocal lacks punch (i.e., aggression). The lyrics & performance are satisfying. Vanessa HAS a voice but doesn’t project efficiently. Big voices don’t make opera singers.
The line: “but I stuck a toe out on the ice…” The words “stuck” & “toe” needs emphasis, then ascend with higher notes to the word “ice.” Perform it, don’t just sing it (listen to Billie Holiday).
Defiance helps on “Yes.” A strong song but the anger isn’t convincing, the frustration is. Listen to The Who’s Roger Daltrey or Patti Smith. This was written with an excellent performance quotient. Patti Smith’s attitude filtered through Sheryl Crow. In the last song, her most memorable, Vanessa has a signature style shaping up.
Many factors may have played a role in the CD’s limitations. I have faith.
Making a classic rock LP isn’t as easy as one may think.
The 11-cuts were produced by Rip Rowan (drums/keys), Vanessa (acoustic piano), Federico Ciancabilla (electric guitar), Matteo Patrone (keys), Andrea Colicchia (bass) & guest Joe Reyes (rhythm guitar “Crazymaker”).
The 40-minute CD: available @ Bandcamp & https://vanessapeters.com/