Peter Oren identifies one of his major influences as Bill Callahan, which is a good way to get interested attention round here. Oren does have a whole lot of baritone character in his voice, and he uses it to sketch out songs about our present era, the Anthropocene. Also on board are a crack group of Nashville session musicians. Released by Western Vinyl.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 08 November 2017
I have a question for Peter Oren. My question is… can he please explain this lyric? It goes like this: “I came to at half past two to a diesel engine’s roar”. Has anyone ever woken up and thought, damn, that specifically diesel-run vehicle is giving me grief? No. Oren is unprecedented in this. A country singer with a keen descriptive voice, he makes detailed worlds with plainspoken and smooth-running stanzas, adding musical flourishes that flesh out the world but never busy it. ‘Anthropocene’, in this sense, feels vaster than a lot of the record’s it goes out to imitate.
He mentions the master Bill Callahan as an influence, and beyond the voice -- too bold and deep for this world but totally calm about it -- it makes some sense. His lyrics swim across his songs with complete ease, rarely looking back and instead finding poetic observations in every passing image. Musically, though, they diverge: the title track becomes just about the most serene and symphonically built song of its ilk I’ve ever heard, its strings screaming out in ways his nylon-string guitar can only jealously sit and watch at.
It’s honestly ridiculous that he’s only two records in when he’s capable of making a record this confident and world-built: the band behind him have already developed a folksy formula that shimmers and elucidates, offering darkly-toned and sweetly melodic environments for him to render through his omniscient baritone vocal. I'll let him have this one: he probably does describe them as diesel engines.
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