Monday, 27 January 2014
Album Review - Beerjacket - Darling Darkness
Like many songwriters, Peter Kelly, a.k.a Beerjacket keeps his cards close to his chest when it comes to his lyrics. Yet when he does let slip about the inspirational sources the picture that emerges is not one of clichéd tormented artiste, but of a man who is genuinely contented and happy with his lot in life. Take the opening line of Antlers; "put your hands on my head to make antlers", an imagine conjured, so we were informed during Kelly's between song banter on Vic Galloway's Celtic Connections show, by act of placing his children on his shoulders. The same tracks sees Kelly sing "Dare I believe" in a brief moment of contemplation.
And believe he should well do. For Darling Darkness, his second studio album, seventh overall, allows us all to believe.
Peter Kelly wears many hats, combining his desire for creative independence with his musical talents, and a passion for teaching; his day job as an English teacher. What he does well, as all good songwriters do, is to not separate those entities, allowing each of his passions to bleed into the other, so that his music bursts with honesty and realism.
The album begins with a sucker punch double whammy in the guise of Antlers and Two Travel. Whilst Antlers delights with mandolin and vocal harmonies, courtesy of Julia Doogan and previous Beerjacket collaborator Louise Connell, Two Travel broods with intent.
Glow, contains the line from which the album gains it name is an uplifting love song, dedicated to someone who provides that respite from the world. Another track whose roots lie in the imagination of children is Cape, an ode to the child-like vision of playing superheros.
An album as stripped back as Darling Darkness puts songwriting front and centre. Acoustic guitar, the occasional additional guitar or mandolin, scattered percussion and fleeting vocal melodies are all that fill out the spaces between Kelly's voice. Despite not quite fitting into the 'folk' bracket, there's an earthy feel about the songs, a realisation that simplicity equates beauty. The music itself remains as heart warming as one has come to expect from Beerjacket following the acclaimed The White Feather Trail. Instrumental interludes such as in Keys and final track Men showcase Kelly and producer Stuart McLeod's delicate playing.
Darling Darkness connects in such a way because it's not disconnected from reality, the seeds of its songs come from the little everyday things, which serve as reminders to smile and be contended. Beerjacket continues his unassuming, undemanding march to the claim of one of Scotland's finest crafter of songs.
- Neil Wilson
Beerjacket - Darling Darkness is out on Monday 27th January via iTunes, Amazon, and other online music retailers. You can download and purchase a CD copy of the album directly from Beerjacket's Bandcamp.