Review: Peasant – Bound For Glory

 

Peasant, the musical alias of American singer-songwriter Damien DeRose, made his name as a solo, home-recording specialist with his bedroom-made debut album Fear Not Distant Lover; and after recording his second and third albums On The Ground and Shady Retreat on Paper Garden Records, he has now changed record labels and gathered a full band together for his new release Bound For Glory.

DeRose shares that style of songwriting that we associate with artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Jeffrey Lewis which makes you feel as if all his life experience is being drawn upon to create his music, and as a result all his songs seem quite unashamedly frank and personal to his own life. Just as his past albums have been, Bound For Glory is littered with tales of love and lost romance. The beauty of these kinds of singers is that their songs seem like therapy sessions, in which they get all their troubles off their chests, and, thankfully for us, that makes good music. During Girls, one of the more bluesy numbers which are dotted about his album, he mourns over a break-up, wailing ‘I kind of liked you’ with all the ironic sincerity of an artist who can use the troubles in life to his best advantage.

As you will find with songwriters of this ilk, to get the full effect of Peasant’s storytelling you will have to let this album repeat a few times. It could be a record that easily passes you by, but after a few listens you realise each song is drawing enough to warrant putting on repeat anyway. Bound For Glory ranges from the rock ‘n’ roll twangs of Pretty Good and the plaintive piano-led Don’t Let Me Down, to the folk-tinged layering of strings in the charming love story A Little One, and shows a musician that does not just write and sing, but creates songs, and, to his credit, is difficult to pin down to any specific genre.

From the thumping energy of title track and album opener Bound For Glory through to the mournful echoes of So Far Gone and the tinny southern plucks of Doesn’t Mean, this is an album embedded with a desperate kind of optimism, full of as many points of buoyant energy as there is melancholy. The constant lifts and drops in emotion almost give it the feeling of, and I mean this in a good way, a break-up concept album, with enough personal attention given to each track to make new listeners to Peasant not only fall in love with this album, but with the man himself. Peasant is an artist that really is bound for glory.

Josh King