Shady Retreat is a plucky, quirky batch of laid-back folk pop tunes, where individual songs are built out of construction paper and pipe cleaners, lyrics seem to be jotted down on torn bits of cardboard and augmented with permanent marker doodles. Delicately structured choruses recall cottonball clouds drifting just beyond glittering sand castles and forts constructed out of twigs and beach towels. The melodies are spiderweb delicate and underscored by drifting acoustic guitar work and reverberating pianos. Each of the ten tracks fade out early, almost as if they were too shy to bare the weight of existence much beyond the three-minute mark.
Peasant’s sole member, Damien DeRose successfully Elmer-glues his warbling whispers into patchwork bedroom pop compositions like “Well Alright” and “Thinking.” As each fragile framework builds upon its predecessor, Shady Retreat becomes stronger and more penetrating. “Prescriptions” plops a horseshoe trot, tap-tapping percussion over a flighty slice of bare bluesy, Americana. The track disintegrates from its own slack momentum, until DeRose’s voice lifts to the top of the mix, gathering power as he sings, “maybe it’s best if we’re just like the rest…”
“Tough” is a flickering memory fleshed-out with finger-picked guitar chords and miniature strings, while “Pry” pushes DeRose’s recording technique into lo-fi territory, allowing his willowy voice to nearly distort as his narrator admonishes himself for past misdeeds. “Slow Down” recalls early Iron and Wine, where production values serve to at once distance the listener by flattening vocals and guitar wafer-thin while serving implant us within the physical space and time of the track’s commitment to tape. “Into the Woods” is a fierce lullaby that equates romance with uncharted geographies as DeRose quietly suggests: “Don’t go out into the woods follow all your favorite tracks.” After his proposition is ignored, he acquiesces (“That’s all right I knew you would”) and the third verse drifts into melancholy humming and harmony before drifting away altogether.
Favorite Track: “Into The Woods”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.