It seems impossible that American multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick can be only 28 years old. There are already more than a dozen albums that bear his name, either as sole creator or key collaborator, and his frequent tendency to flit between modern classical and singer-songwriter modes ensures that this is a not inconsiderable body of work.
It was, perhaps, the emotional heft required for such an achievement that left Broderick with a stress-related illness a little less than three years ago. After some much-needed recuperation time back home in Oregon, he found himself on the receiving end of the peculiarly tempting offer of a ‘recording residency’ in Lucerne, a small town in Switzerland. Having charmed its residents during previous visits, the proposal was to record an album in collaboration with a group comprised of local musicians and produced by Timo Keller, a leading light in the Swiss hip-hop scene.
The result is a genuine delight, serving to highlight Broderick’s emotive, intimate vocals whilst pushing his music in endearingly different directions. The low-level ambient noise and brushed drums on opener ‘Red Earth’ appear to establish the record as a fragile, simplistic beauty, only for ‘The Reconnection’ to swerve off in a completely contrary manner.
Its quirkily jaunty pop sensibility is perhaps best captured during the second verse when the whole band join in on one line that couldn’t sound more like Talking Heads if it tried. It’s one of those alchemical moments that music throws up from time to time that makes Clash smile on every occasion we hear it.
Despite this curious genre-hopping agenda, ‘Colours Of The Night’ is Broderick’s most complete and satisfying release to date. By putting his trust in other musicians and letting them influence how his writing came to life, he has delivered ten songs that are imbued with a natural, joyous hue that is rather at odds with the obsessively meticulous approach on his previous singer-songwriter work.
That’s not to say there aren’t some typically breath-taking moments within ‘Colours Of The Night’; ‘If I Sinned’ is awash with over thirty tracks of Broderick’s voice ebbing and flowing behind his main vocal, like somebody tickling your soul. A deliciously crisp take on Stina Nordenstam’s ‘Get On With Your Life’ is one of the record’s highpoints, alongside the enormous ‘Our Best’, which gradually ascends dizzyingly to a guitar solo that leaves glorious contrails across a majestic wall of sound.
There’s Afrobeat, vintage pop, country touches and even a touch of the great rock ballad across this quite remarkable record. A curious confluence of circumstances may have brought it into being, but it’s hard to see how even the most precise planning could have resulted in anything more powerful.
Words: Gareth James
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