Release Date: 16/04/2012
The British folk revival appears to have been given another forceful resuscitation on these shores in 2012. In a state of pre-apocalyptic reflection, the UK has been hit with yet another rogue wave of ham-fisted, beardy bed-wetters to strum us out and yet – for our nation’s limp lamenters – the next Kiwanuka, Howard or McMorrow can’t come along soon enough. Well, with this in mind, spare a thought for a poor old Peasant, in this case 26-year-old Damien DeRose, who (now) four albums in, is still solemnly living the DIY, dainty-plucker’s dream – conjuring self-produced LPs of largely-ignored, earnest authenticity from his bedroom. You get the sense that had he been born this side of the pond – rather than in the sleepy surrounds of Doylestown, Pennsylvania – his releases might be the victim of feverous anticipation by now, but alas no such luck. Although, in this age of fleeting prosperity, one man’s ignorance is another’s well-kept secret, right?
Opener and title track, ‘Bound For Glory’ moves in favour of this theory – a bittersweet, slow-burner that possesses the same confessional quality exercised so perfectly by Samuel Beam’s Iron and Wine. It’s a dead ringer for the Win Butler-penned ‘Windowsill’, but there is something about the refrain of “Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry, we’re bound for glory” that would lure even the most sceptical and cynical cold fish. Pre-album taster, ‘The Flask’, sees DeRose reveal his inner-Mercer, with a delightful falsetto which fortunately steals thunder from a slightly woeful opening couplet of “I fell off the Eiffel Tower/I met you and felt your power”. But if that can be forgiven, it’s a slab of skittery melancholy to be savoured. Similarly, the whisky-stained, honky tonk-infused shuffle of ‘We’re Not The Same’ is a poignant heart warmer – featuring a vulnerable, whimpered delivery that could easily have been filched from a lost, Sam’s Town -era Brandon Flowers’ demo.
However, things take a noticeable dip around midway, with a double-dose of disappointment – in the shape of the saccharin-sweet ‘A Little One’ and the meandering porch strum of ‘Doesn’t Mean’. It’s here that Bound For Glory is a noticeable departure from the sincere and endearing despondence of 2010’s ‘Shady Retreat’, but instead of it coming off as a glowing ray of optimism, the sluggish sugar injection borders on nice background music for the ecclesiastical community – inoffensive, unfulfilling and, ultimately, dull. Fortunately, ‘Amends’ arrives just before patience is lost – to, er, make amends for it’s empty-headed, ambling predecessors. Jogging along like The Boy With The Arab Strap-era Belle and Sebastian, it hints that Peasant certainly has the aptitude to fabricate moments of understated brilliance. Equally, the beautiful, Bon Iver-ish, double tracked vocals at the end of ‘Gone Far Lost’, are the sort that only a gentleman with potential in spades could produce.
Likewise, ‘Pretty Good’(s) cool, calculated cocksure swagger instils some much needed vigour to the home straight, bragging the sort of eclectic, sparse and selective arrangements that pushed Cass McCombs into inner-circle consciousness. However, it’s bright embers are quickly extinguished by album clanger ‘Stars’, whose brainless strums are more Nick Jonas than Nick Drake. “If you could only see/What I’m trying to be”, coos DeRose on closer ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, but unfortunately therein lies the problem – we’re still none the wiser. If the excellence was sustainable this could be something truly special, but for now Bound For Glory is exactly that – another stepping-stone on an organic path to craved flawlessness. Perhaps, he’s torn between pleasing himself and pleasing a wider audience – which, of course, leads to him not entirely pleasing either. 5/10
READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT THE 405