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Peter Berwick - Island

  by Lisa Torem

published: 6 / 8 / 2019

Peter Berwick - Island
Label: Peter Berwick
Format: CD


Honest and inspiring country-influenced sixth solo album from Chicago-based singer-snngwriter Peter Berwick

If the ghosts of Johnny Cash and Phil Ochs jammed with the Blasters, you’d probably hear a sound that echoes that of Chicago native Peter Berwick. A seasoned songwriter, singer and guitar slinger, Berwick also triples as a film actor, comedian and novelist. His career began in the 80s when he fronted Pete Berwick and Interstate. His original, ‘Ain’t No Train Outta Nashville’ enjoyed screen time on ‘The Thing Called Love’. Over the years, he’s recorded a slew of albums, including the palpable ‘Six Pack Town’ and been labeled country, Americana and justifiably, everything in-between. He’s played patios, festivals, biker bars and even been a hired gun for leading Nashville publishing companies. He’s had ups and down, but has rarely stopped, except for the time he took a somewhat lengthy hiatus, but afterwards Berwick came back recharged and ready to duke it out in the ring. In Berwick’s sixth solo album, ‘Island,’ recorded with the Mugshot Saints and produced by Jason Botka, his hard-scrabble, but inspiring experiences meld together through achingly, honest stories. The title song begins with a bright flurry of strings over which Berwick’s beer-stained vocals rise. It’s impossible not to relate to his woes. As the story unfolds, we discover an isolated man, almost too weary to go on. We’ve been there, we just can’t describe it as well. “Why do you hurt me with your lies?” he posits. There’s a rugged and raw tear in his vocal performance, and better yet, there’s no fluff - every phrase moves the story along in a sincere way. Another gem, ‘Anyway,’ begins with friendly, folksy strums. But get a grip. This is not Disney. This is deliciously dark. Berwick sings of “cannonballs and hand grenades.” (I warned you.) You can feel his sweat and frustration beneath the contagious, electric twang. ‘I’m Getting Tired of This Place’ finds Berwick exhaustedly “disgraced” because of life’s incomprehensible changes. God, how he pines for the past, where “Once a man could be a man here and look a woman in the eye…” But on ‘The Streets of Pasadena,’ his tone softens and the performance evokes a heartwarming glimmer of hope. The soft refrain, in which he harmonises especially well with Jennifer McCleary Botka, serves as a stunning metaphor: ‘I’ve seen you shine beneath your bloodstained Hollywood sign…” ‘They Gave Love a Chance’ is a playful, third-person, slice of country life. ‘I’m Really Not That Kind’ is more of a confessional treasure. ‘Just Make It You and Me Tonight’ is realistically deceptive and worth several listens just to appreciate its depth, as it contains killer lines, such as: “Make silence be our sadness for one night.” As a narrator, Berwick is somehow sinister and soft at the same time, which is no small feat, but then again, ‘Island’ is no minor player. Pete Berwick has a heck of a lot to say about double-edged love, finding your footing, the misery of isolation and coming-of-age. That said, anyone who’s got a lick of sense ought to shut up and listen.

Track Listing:-
1 I'm Gettin' Tired of This Place
2 Anyway
3 Just Make It You and Me Tonight
4 One Setback at a Time
5 Island
6 I Am Not Afraid
7 They Gave Love a Chance
8 The Sooner I Let Go
9 I'm Really Not That Kind
10 Stories That Rhyme
11 Nothing
12 The Streets of Pasadena

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