Damien DeRose has been making moody folk tunes under the pseudonym/stage name of Peasant
since 2008. Each album has found DeRose more comfortable in his own sound and strengths. Though his albums, On the Ground
and Shady Retreat,
were greeted with notable praise, his latest offering, Bound for Glory
, is arguably the most thoughtful, effortless sounding record to date. The final destination of Bound for Glory
is somewhere between familiar and familial. Most of the time it is vaguely similar in composition, or a drum part or strum pattern, but there are also moments and melodies of eerie familiarity. There is a focus on the waxing and waning of relationships so lyrically he isn’t reaching for the stars, but he comes off as honest and sincere.
The album’s opener, which also serves as the title track, is a quaint yet assertive number with groggy keys, vacant drums and DeRose’s calming vocals. The reoccurring “don’t worry” permeates the song and exemplifies Peasant’s ability to be simple yet effective. The lead single from the album, “The Flask,” is skittering, super catchy and sounds like a refined version of a Build Something Out Of Nothing-era Modest Mouse song. A bit later in the album we get “A Little One” which recalls early Jason Mraz (which is meant as a compliment). It’s just begging to be used in an eco-friendly car commercial.
The second half of the album begins with a standout in “Gone Far Lost.” From start to finish it recalls the delicate beauty of an Elliot Smith song, especially “Pitseleh” from XO. Even the frail, overdubbed vocals are intact. “Take It Light” is a sauntering tune similar to the Fruit Bats or the more tender moments of Okkervil River. Similarly, the stark, finger-picking of “Mother Mary” offers weightlessness to a heavy heart, with morsels that we swear we’ve heard before. The album picks up a bit with a slight left turn musically, creating a psychedelic vibe with its keys and reverb-soaked vocals. While the change of pace was short and sweet, it set up the closing of the album with the nimble “Stars” and another standout track in closer “Don’t Let Me Down,” which sounds like DeRose charmingly singing karaoke to a Hall and Oats B-Side, but it works.
While many artists try and separate from their audience by dehumanizing themselves and creating more of a brand, Peasant attempts to connect on a casual and intimate level with a fairly uncommon personal touch. It is more of a friendly conversation than a convoluted lecture, and such an effect can be quite refreshing. You can purchase Bound for Glory
via London-based label Schitznel Records
. - Adam G.