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Peter Hochstedler | Desert

album review by John Powell

Peter Hochstedler | Desert

Peter Hochstedler’s Desert EP is released at the same time as The Saltpeter Wars, but while the latter is ominous, cold, and pluming with metaphor, this EP is more interested in simple songwriting. Peter is a lyricist above all else, doing more here with one song than many other folk artists pull off in an album. The songs are quiet, acoustic, and rich with imagination.

Take “Amelia”, for example. “Out here, the desert is as quiet as the snow,” he starts the EP off with. “Our home in Wisconsin/ walls made of skin/ Here, icicles hang in the mind.” Peter paints bold pictures with his words, and this scene is dramatic, slowly unfolding with naught but an acoustic guitar and his voice.

“Rocco” adds drums and bass, but is not less serene, developing calmly. “A man beaten down at the border/ he died/ he was non-resistant,” it goes. So, yeah, you get the idea that it’s not the most upbeat song. “Where will you lay your head?” Peter’s voice is collect, but yearning too.

To combat that sad embrace, Peter gives us “Mary”, a faster tempo folk tune. Peter’s guitar playing has improved over time and really fits the mood here. “Now, I’ve been a million places/ on an aeroplane/ I’ve looked out at the Atlantic Ocean/ I feel it’s a long way down.” Peter isn’t too optimistic, here, but he’s not destroyed. “I’ve got no country,” he shrugs, “I’ve got space and time.”

All-in-all, Peter’s EP isn’t fluff. It’s rich and definite. It doesn’t have the feel of an EP, something choppy and incomplete. It feels like a full concept, which it is, in a way. If Peter’s tongue were a brush, his paintings would be priceless.

Bottom line: This EP is super rich with potent lyrics, great guitar playing, and global ideas hidden in surreal scenery.


 

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