Review: Peasant – Shady Retreat
DeRose’s picks up right where On The Ground left off, although we hear an obvious maturity that he has gained in his two years between releases. His quiet folk songs still have that woodsy, campfire feel from the first record with their straightforward and sincere lyrics. And while DeRose still sounds as shy as he did on his first record, there is a certain boldness that pops up here and there on this album, which was perhaps lacking on his debut. DeRose is still as soft-spoken as ever and still brings to mind artists like J.Tillman, Simon & Garfunkel and, of course, Elliott Smith. ”Well Alright” is a peppy piano number that trudges along until some country style guitar kicks in during one of the album’s catchiest choruses. “Pry” is one of the fuller-sounding songs on the album, with its wrapping layers of deep strings, drums, piano and synths. But perhaps the brightest moment on the album comes in the form of “The End”. From the first sad guitar riffs, to the first utterances of DeRose as he sings in his almost tragic falsetto, “Are you alone tonight? Are you alone every night?”. This is heart-felt folk at it’s best.
Shady Retreat is short and sweet, clocking in at just over 28 minutes, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. This album doesn’t ramble on, as some tend to do and DeRose uses his time wisely. Perhaps for an album composed of simple yet lovely folk songs such as this a shorter album is best, as a 45 minute album would have perhaps seemed too tedious. In the end, what Peasant has accomplished on Shady Retreat is given us an album of fuzzy and warm folk-melodies that, like chicken soup on a miserable winter day, seem to make the world just a little bit more pleasant. – Amelia Robitaille