Peter Donovan – This Better Be Good
This singer’s specialty’s often been a singer who creates characters, adds some storytelling & ties them up into a power-pop package with a foundation in Americana music. How else can you compare him to Bob Dylan, Randy Newman & add Marshall Crenshaw’s frosting (listen to “I Won’t Just Stand There”)? He does.
It’s not a concept that hasn’t been done before. In the mid-60s another Donovan was playfully creating psychedelic songs rooted in folk & fairytale. He did pretty well too. Many singer-songwriters are alleged storytellers, but the truth is to be successful you have to have something to say besides rhyming lots of words with a sugary flair. A creative delivery is needed to be entertaining – Peter has this quality.
Peter Donovan’s (vocals, acoustic guitar) previous work did this. His new 11-cut This Better Be Good (Drops April 29–Red Parlor) produced by Bradley Laina (add’l guitars, keys & percussion) in Seattle, WA – delivers the goods. All the songs are originals in a handsome 6-panel color CD package.
Peter has a talent for creating basic rock tailored pop-ditties with catchy melodies and sharp arrangements, all recorded with his folky storytelling expertise. The title track “This Better Be Good,” is instantly a radio-friendly confection that is of the highest quality. He tells a good story in 3-minutes within the framework of a hook-laden song. This isn’t easy. There’s nice guitar throughout, steady drums, well-placed percussion & backup vocals that elevate the excitement.
Peter’s serious territory comes with “Sweet Trouble,” with little cliches. Musically, it has a colorful elaborate structure. Older artists who have walked this tuneful road are the late melody-expert Clifford T. Ward (“Gaye” “Wherewithal”) & Bruce McPherson (an Elton John-type pianist) who stayed within the confines of Elton’s early songs.
“You Told Me Not To Call (I’m Wasted)” is a clever musical concoction a bit heavy on the rhymes but the music fits perfectly. It has an Elton John-Billy Joel touch with a melodic harmonica tweaking the melody.
Though the style Peter applies is firmly planted in 70s-era music he successfully arranges the songs to sound far more acute & modern. The way an easy listening singer today would cover an old Billie Holiday song. Keeping the vintage recipe in the performance but sweeping the dust mites off.
Recommended songs: The majority are good. “Phone Call From a Ghost,” is quite creative. “Gonna Miss You,” is strong with lovely excellent backing vocals. “Don’t Drag Me Down,” has a jangly Byrds-cum George Harrison guitar & Tom Petty melodic offering. This is delightful stuff.
Musicians — Dune Butler (bass/synths), William Mapp (drums/percussion), Cole Schuster (guitar), Owen Thayer (pedal steel), Charles Wicklander (organs/pianos) & Kate Dinsmore (background vocals).
The 41-minute CD available @ https://www.peterdonovanmusic.com/