Album: Peter Bruntnell
Ends Of The Earth, Loose
Friday 07 March 2003
Over the past eight years, Peter Bruntnell has been quietly building up a reputation as one of the country's most promising singer-songwriters, while sensibly manoeuvring his music away from the Britpop-tinged sound of early albums such as Cannibal and Camelot in Smithereens, towards the more understated alt.country tones of this album and its predecessor, the acclaimed Normal for Bridgwater.
Normal for Bridgwater helped to establish Bruntnell in the American market which, given his melancholy country rock and weary, weather-beaten drawl, is surely his natural domain, a second home as familiar to him as Kingston upon Thames, where he grew up playing in pubs and hoping to emulate After the Goldrush. Not surprisingly, a keen sense of place underpins his songs, several of them dealing obliquely with the emotional displacement resulting from what might be considered substitute roots. "Like coming from the wrong town/ Is sure to raise a frown/ Co-ordinates let you down", he observes in "Laredo Kent" (whose title may be an inverted pun on Paris, Texas); while "Ends of the Earth" employs long-haul travel as a metaphor for such longings, with lines such as "Wishes nose about out there like airplanes on the ground" evoking the frisson of freedom experienced in slipping between cultures, the open-ended possibilities afforded by peripatetic anonymity. "City Star" and "Downtown", meanwhile, exhibit the ambivalence towards urban values that is country rock's fated position, simultaneously drawn by the good times and bright lights, but repelled by the wastefulness and frigid values.
With the young lead guitarist James Walbourne displaying an impressive picking style reminiscent of the late Clarence White, and Son Volt's Eric Heywood adding a glint of pedal steel guitar to some tracks, there's more than a hint of The Byrds about such songs as the venomous put-down "Tabloid Reporter" and especially the eco-anthem "Rio Tinto", where jangly guitars underscore imagery of leaded clouds, blackened fields and stained riverbeds. Elsewhere, there's a more traditional country cast to "One Drink Away", a classic barfly weepie about being left behind by love ("I've got the heart, but I'm running out of time"), and "Murder in the Afternoon", an oddly dispassionate murder ballad set against a backdrop of lonely, plunking banjo, rain and bird noises, and the distant roll of thunder.
Perhaps the best track, however, is the opener "Here Come the Swells", in which an alienated loner is nettled by the cheeriness of passers-by: "I don't eat now, I don't sleep, I don't need anyone telling me what's fun." A cutting exercise in offhand misanthropy, it's the kind of idiosyncratic song that places Peter Bruntnell alongside David Gray and Tom McRae in the pantheon of new Brit singer-songwriters.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark finale review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
The Visit: Watch terrifying trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3 - review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton, really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia