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Peter Bruntnell - Ends Of The Earth

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 15 / 6 / 2003

Peter Bruntnell - Ends Of The Earth
Label: Loose Music
Format: CD


Long-awaited fourth album from much acclaimed New-Zealand born, but England-based Americana artist Peter Bruntnell, which shows itself to be his best record yet

It is surprising that a man born in New Zealand of Welsh parentage, who spent a large part of his adult life in Kingston, Surrey and who now resides in Devon should, on this, his fourth album, produce a collection which falls so neatly into the Americana genre. Even more surprising is the fact that this is an improvement on Bruntell's acclaimed third album from 1999, 'Normal For Bridgwater' It's been four years since that album and I was beginning to think that Bruntnell had reached his peak with those songs. I have to confess that I missed out on Bruntnell's debut album, 'Cannibal'. It wasn't until 1997's 'Camelot In Smithereens' that I first became aware of the man's talents. Bruntnell's work has just got better and better since then with each new release. The melodies, always one of Bruntnell's strong points, are stronger and more instant than before and his soft vocals seem to have taken on some of the qualities of those of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco on some tracks. The first song, 'Here Come The Swells', sets a high standard for the rest of the album. It features one of Bruntnell's most beautiful melodies and has the singer sounding almost resigned ; "Transformation incomplete, till they've had enough, till the blood is sucked from everything they touch" and further on in the same song, "I don't need anyone telling me what's fun, I don't need anyone". With a melody as catchy as chicken pox it's an early highlight on the album. Bruntnell has a gift for telling a story in the space of a few minutes and it is as sharp here as on previous albums. He expects no compassion in the track 'Murder In The Afternoon' for suffocating his neighbour who was banging on the wall( Yeah, I know , but how many times have we all felt like doing the same?). The feeling of regret and pain in Bruntnell's vocals shows through, or at least it seems it does until he sings, "I murdered my poor neighbour, regret what I have done, cos if I had that time again, I would've used a gun". The track is really affecting and this is due in no small part to the pedal steel and high strung guitar by Eric Heywood (Son Volt) which along with the sound of birds and thunder builds up the eerie atmosphere of the song. Another track which captures the attention from the very first listen is the bile filled 'Tabloid Reporter'. "You try to ruin good people's lives, wish you a long miserable life" sings Bruntnell in the chorus before James Walbourne bursts in with the first of two incredibly nasty guitar solos. It's one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, but apparently started life as a ballad. The following track 'Rio Tinto' is in complete contrast to 'Tabloid Reporter'. Drenched in Byrdsian jangle and with Bruntnell's sweet vocals it reminds me of some of the work of the Pernice Brothers. Bruntnell wrote the title track, along with three of the other songs here, with Bill Ritchie and it's another gorgeous laid-back gem of a song with Walbourne's guitar and harmonies on the chorus making it one of the highlights on the album. It is absolutely heartbreaking. The ghost of The Byrds also haunts the next track, another Bill Ritchie co-write called 'Black Aces'. Maybe it's because Bruntnell write melodies that are so strong that his lyrics don't show through on the first couple of plays except where the subject matter is obvious as on 'Tabloid Reporter'and 'Murder In The Afternoon'. His lyrics can be a little oblique. 'Black Aces', for example, reveals itself as, possibly, a story about siblings but it is not that obvious until a few listens have passed and then only towards the end of the song. Bruntnell has produced the best album of his career so far with his fourth release and, as difficult as it may seem with the high standard of songwriting he has achieved here, there is no real reason to doubt that his next collection of songs will be just as good, as each album he releases has been better than the last. Any fans of the Pernice Brothers should check this out and it could be the Loose Records connection, but I feel that fans of Grand Drive will also find much to love here.

Track Listing:-
1 Here Come the Swells
2 City Star
3 Laredo Kent
4 Downtown
5 One Drink Away
6 Tabloid Reporter
7 Rio Tinto
8 Ends of the Earth
9 Black Aces
10 Murder in the Afternoon

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