As slices of Americana with a seasoning of audacious vocal talent goes, you’d be hard-pressed to go beyond Anthropocene by Peter Oren this year. For that’s exactly what this is. It’s got some guitars and it’s got some strings. It sounds like it was recorded on a porch looking out over the dustbowl. The words murmured, deep, sonorous and rich.
There we are then, you know exactly what it sounds like, six out of ten, off we go. Except, we kind of have to think of some more things to say. More stuff. There has to be ‘stuff’ to say about records.
Well, it’s competent and extremely evocative. Even in the pissing rain of a UK November, it casts a parched, amber glow about the ears. And that voice is the sort I would trust to sell me the correct second-hand car. It is un-showy and has integrity. An honesty picking its way through the slide guitars and wandering melodies. Mr Oren isn’t going to trick me into an ill-advised sports car, that’s for sure. It’ll be quietly elegant and fit for purpose. As the man himself appears to be, more and more as this low-key release progresses.
And that really is where the strength of this album is – deceptive progression. It may drift by on first listen, pleasant but no more. Then the songs, both contemplative and thoughtful start seeping through. State of the planet addresses and muses. And finally that ludicrously rich voice for one so young becomes impossible to ignore. Reaching its apogee on the title track, all elements come together into a rather glorious whole with closing strings that are quite irresistible
Anthropocene isn’t tearing up any trees particularly – handy, given the green credentials of its author – and it’s part of a musical line rather than any new branch, but, if you are attracted by the aforementioned parched Americana, this sure as hell gives it a kick back into life. Peter Oren’s lungs stand up to any of the greats with ease. And for those not particularly swayed by such lilting laments? Well, it may not cause you to burn all your other records and riot in the park, but, there’s some real beauty here. And a musician blessed with a raw and natural talent.