Peter Bruntnell an Alt-Country Genius
Album after album, the Kingston upon Thames solo artist, Wellington-born Peter Bruntnell produces rich and refined song-craft, yet hardly anyone has heard of him. Could this be his time? The Guardian’s Angus Batey considers “the fools”, that is, the “vast majority of the world’s listening public, who have stubbornly refused to pay much attention to Bruntnell since the release of his debut LP more than 20 years ago.”
Ringing endorsements from the likes of REM’s Peter Buck and Son Volt’s Jay Farrar have been matched by rave reviews (Guardian Music contributor Keith Cameron, reviewing Bruntnell’s third LP in NME, memorably wrote that “his songs should be taught in schools”). And the music really is exceptional – a canon of classically constructed, melodically rich, lyrically ingenious and emotionally, intellectually affecting songs that bears comparison with the all-time greats. Yet there appears to be almost nobody listening.
He doesn’t just excel as a writer, though. On that “lost” 2013 album, Bruntnell, 54, covers Bowie (Five Years), George Harrison (Think for Yourself) and Goffin and King (a spellbinding Goin’ Back, unfurling along a desert-dry Telecaster riff, with no obvious debt to any of the celebrated versions). He’s a fine and versatile singer, easy-going and comfortable with uptempo rockers yet still able to sell the subtleties of huskier alt-country mood pieces, with a tendency to put a little quaver into his voice on longer-held notes. And as a writer he has few real peers. Perhaps this time, with Nos Da Comrade, to be released on 1 April, his songs and his talents will at long last start to reach the size of audience they deserve.
Original article by Angus Batey, The Guardian, March 22, 2016.
Photo by PR.