Peter Lacey’s Latest Triumph
Right: Peter Lacey's "Songs From a Loft"
This time, dear reader, please let us skip the allusive detours to Hawthorne, California or Liverpool, England. Instead let us rush headlong to the soothing environs of West Sussex, where the musical artisan, Peter Lacey, has fashioned his latest triumph, Songs from a Loft (Pink Hedgehog Records) His 4th creation stands as a stunning demarcation point between the present and everything that has gone before; Lacey has sonically reinvented himself, surprising the long-term fans who thought they had the Lacey-style pinned down.
For sure, the listener does receive the reassuring goodies that we’ve come to expect: the gilded harmonies brushing the ultra-smooth “Sandman (Of The Southern Shores)” coupled with the heart-grabbing signature lilt that ends certain lines. This piece, to my ears, feels as close to a self-portrait of the artist as we’ll ever get.
And here’s the curveball: although this album is most definitely contemporary, it has an air of antique mystery. The poignant “Curios” appears to have Platonic underpinnings, invoking images of “shadow”, “dust” and “spirit”, while its musical latticework is oddly baroque. Its instrumental counterpart seems to be “Orient Tear”, with string & woodwind work that moves Mt. Fuji to the West. Still think you know Peter Lacey, after being lulled by an Eastern-tinged wordless lullaby? Then I refer you to the funky “The Finishing Touch” – wait, “Peter Lacey” and “funky” in the same breath? Yes! There’s enough self-assured grit and drive in this guitar-pumped tune to knock anybody down, and we’ve got a mischievous side heretofore never seen before:
“Don’t hesitate just jump in my car/
Sounds like fun! I’ll go along for the ride and gladly pay for the beer, Peter!
My vote for favorite track, in the end, goes to “The Saddest Night (In The World)” – gentle, but incessant in its strident piano – undercut with a searing guitar solo that cuts open the wounds of unarticulated sorrows just a little deeper. Few artists can undertake the task of writing a decent depressing song in which the listener can actually find comfort – paradoxical, perhaps, but emotions aren’t completely black and white, although the narrator finds himself “in the black and white”. The shared understanding between us and the narrator is that we may find ourselves in a drab space, but we are not infinitely limited by it; the music bears that out. Hope peeks through, like a stubborn weed, even in the most hopeless of situations – that’s a Lacey trademark.
The cover image seems metaphorical to the whole venture – a hummingbird slaps its wings feverishly against the backdrop of a moon; while the world sleeps, Peter Lacey conjures up magical tunes in the sacred peace of his loft. When the world awakes, there are 15 little masterpieces resting on the nightstand. Go on, pick them up; they are yours.