One of the disadvantages of having a thousand faces as a composer is the difficulty of presenting brilliance on all, of maintaining a qualitative balance that manages to generate the same interest in the public whatever you do. In the five years that have passed since he released his recording debut, Peter Broderick has shown that he is capable of recording folk or ambient albums, chamber pieces, soundtracks, piano sonatas, neoclassical productions and even pop songs. Furthermore, he can do so with common sense, good judgement and sensitivity - regardless of the various means involved in carrying them out. But as a young talent who must still evolve and mature - yet wants to cover a lot of ground in a short time - one can’t help but think that his extreme productivity sometimes catches up with him and disperses his legacy.
“http://www.itstartshear.com”, his new album for Bella Union, follows the more conventional, traditionalist line of his discourse - calling on the resources and influences of country-folk. That is to say: it follows the same path as the EP “How They Are”, although without the wintry starkness that it had, with the piano playing a central role. It offers sounds that are a bit more like Spring, as if the American musician were promising us the most accessible, easily-assimilated reference of his entire career - straightforward and without any fuss. It is too early to tell whether this step ahead has any importance in the future of his career as a composer; but it is clear that Broderick wanted to set aside his more solemn, elaborate experiments in order to submerge himself in an oasis of simplicity and traditionalism.
Songs like “Everything I Know”, “Blue” or “Colin” couldn’t sound simpler or more classic. Think of Nick Drake, Graham Parsons, Tim Hardin or David Wiffen and you will be on the right track. 60s airs, precise orchestrations that are well resolved, a tempered voice and a melancholy feel - but far from being emotionally baroque - there is a general feeling that Broderick feels very comfortable in this context. Those of us who prefer his more extreme, unruly side run the risk of being left a bit cold by http://www.itstartshear.com, as if we were always aware that this isn’t the facet where we see the best of the Oregon musician, as if something were missing. It is a polished Broderick, formally impeccable, even shameless – check out that danceable beat in “With The Notes On Fire”– but it doesn’t touch us as deeply, and it doesn’t sound at all memorable.