Peter Perrett – How The West Was Won – A Review

Believe the Hype? Peter Perrett has in the last 40 years released four albums, the last one in 1996. This album has been garnered with pretty much universal praise, and you’d expect it to do well in the music monthlies end of year polls on the back of these glowing write ups. More importantly the two tracks released pre-album are both, at worst, superb. It’s these two tracks that open the album.

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The title track is a drawling look at America rolling in on a George Harrison/Bob Dylan country style groove, Peters voice, half sung, half spoken springs from the speakers, up front in the mix and sounds magnificent. The lyrics cover everything from making suicide vests via internet instructions to a fascination with Kim Kardashians bum. It’s a great opening but for me it’s a warm up for the second single/track two. ‘An Epic Story’ is brilliant, it’s a romantic overture to Peters wife of nearly 50 years, Zena, who we hear has had to put up with a hell a lot over the years. ‘I’ll always be your man, No-one could love me the way you can, If I could live my whole life again, I’d choose you, every time’ are lines any man would be proud to write for their life’s muse. Honestly, track of the year, hands down. It’s a family affair too as Peters sons are in his wonderful band.

And then we’re on to the rest of the album, kept under wraps until the day of release. ‘Hard to Say No’ is a confessional rock track, well played, sung and lyrically guarded enough to get the listener engaged.  ‘Troika’ is tale of a complicated love affair involving three people, but at its heart Perrett is still devoted to his one true love, all backed by a wracked and faithful doowop backing. And Peter sounds great throughout, reviews have made much of the damage done to his voice through substance and general life abuse and how Peter has had to relearn to sing, and seriously, his vocal performance is top notch, recognisable, coherent and confident. Lyrically we’re not a million miles away from previous work, but there’s great focus and belief. The songs are about survival, re-emergence, defiance; but most of all devotion and true faith for Zena. This is an acerbic rock album that manages to be grateful, touching and sweet too. It’s no mean feat.

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There’s no let-up in quality either, no filler and no one song overstays it’s welcome, in fact the longer tracks seem shorter than they are, such are their hooks and the attention they demand. This is an old school album, 10 tracks, an A and a B side, and it’s relentless in a good way. And it’s an album that builds to a very strong finish too. ‘C Voyeurger’ is a creeping, tense ballad that a really displays a great craftmanship from a songwriter that (in terms of releases) does not have prolificacy to thank for helping hone his craft. ‘Something In My Brain’ tries to explain where Perrett is as far as state of mind is concerned in his current stage of life, ‘…I didn’t die, At least not yet, I’m still just about capable, Of one last defiant breath’. His life is pictured as an experiment on a rat, though at the end unlike the rat Peter has chosen life, defeating the obstacles placed in front of him and coming out in better shape with a new-found dedication to his life, love and art. And final track, ‘Take me Home’ brings together all the strings of Peters life and ties them together, ‘I couldn’t be what I wanted, You made me a better man’. And so ends a great, concise album, a triumph against the odds. A career best? Believe the hype, yes. And it leaves you wanting more, this could well be the last we see from Peter Perrett in terms of new music, but let’s hope not, it’s intriguing and natural to want to see where the man presented on this album is able to take himself in the future. But for now, Peter Perrett is home, a rock troubadour, revelling in the bosom of his family and looking forward in life.

10/10. Believe the Hype.

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My daughter Amy, Martha Wainwright and me. 

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