September 26, 2009

Sep 26, 2009

From the ‘We Told You So” department – first review for Andrew Petersen’s album…

Andrew Petersen – The Universe and Its Sense of Humour (Independent)

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THE former frontman of Brisbane band Shutterspeed goes for more acoustic flavours for his solo debut. While banjo, pedal steel, piano, violin and harmonica are used on some tracks, it’s not really an alt-country record. The elements beloved of folkpop bands of every generation are there, but Petersen’s strong vocals and arresting songcraft create something that’s distinctive rather than being just another songwriter with an acoustic guitar and sad songs to sing.

It’s still recognisably the same songwriter from Shutterspeed – and they are one of the most underrated Australian groups of the past 10 years, in my book – but where that band might have cranked up a song to amp-rattling intensity, here the tone is more autumnal.

That leaves plenty of room for Petersen’s emotive voice and for the investigations of love’s pains in his lyrics to resonate. Soul music has been one of his strongest influences, and this is music with soul, whether it’s a sunny (musically that is) mid-tempo tune like A River Near Here, a slow-mo waltz like The Smallest Mercies or an uplifting version of The Box Tops’ Soul Deep.

Songs as powerful as Crashing Into Ghosts show Petersen is equally adept at this soul-baring singer-songwriter game as he is cranking it up with his Rickenbacker and Vox amp. Final track Hide, with Petersen accompanied only by acoustic guitar, is one of the best I’ve heard all year, further evidence that a good tune and a nasty dose of regret never go out of style.

(Noel Mengel, Courier Mail, Brisbane)

See, we told you so…