Since his 1995 solo debut ‘Cannibal‘ Peter Bruntnell has slowly built a canon of songs that would stand up next to the best of best within the Americana genre and way, way beyond. Sensible folk scratch their heads with incredulity at his lack of mainstream commercial success and marvel at the thrill of witnessing such a talent in small venues around the country on a regular basis. Regulars to this site will be familiar with the name but perhaps not the depth and consistency of songwriting that Bruntnell brings to the party. Highpoints abound but the clutch of albums in the late nineties and early noughties such as ‘Normal for Bridgewater,’ ‘Ends of the Earth’ and ‘Ghost in a Spitfire’ represent an early peak. And then there is the title track of 2011’s ‘Black Mountain UFO‘ – It’s as fine as any song penned by a Springsteen or a Tweedy: I promise you, go listen to it now!
One of Bruntnell key strengths, along with his knack for a melody and aching raspy voice, is his production talents which ensure that every album is filled with delights that couch the songs perfectly, be it subtle orchestration or swirling soundscapes. An excellent example of this is ‘Cold Water Swimmer‘ from the last original Loose records album of 2008 ‘Peter and the Murder of Crows’. Loose released a retrospective in 2013 which is an excellent starter for the Bruntnell beginner but there are many delights that do not feature, although the progressing timeline of the track listing is illuminating in highlighting the development of the songwriting.
However, perhaps the most brilliant thing about Peter Bruntnell is that he appears to be getting even better the longer he continues to write, record and perform. 2016’s ‘Nos Da Comrade‘ is almost probably his most consistent work to date and the ‘King of Madrid‘ due later this year is highly anticipated.
The Canon. 12 albums from 1995 until now – this includes a live album from 2017 and 2004’s ‘Played Out‘ wherein Bruntnell revisits material as an acoustic duo with his friend, wunderkind guitarist James Walbourne. All are worthy of appreciation with several standouts. At a push I would suggest ‘Black Mountain UFO’ as a good banker but the…
Key Release. Has to be ‘Nos Da Comrade‘ with its blistering Costello-like satire ‘Mr Sunshine‘ that railed against Trump before he was even in the Whitehouse. The beautiful, lyrical ballad ‘End of the World‘ where he really shows off the battered and bruised romantic melancholy that sits at the heart of a lot of his music. The huge guitar epic ‘Yuri Gararin‘ which flirts with a Crazy Horse sound before carving out its own gorgeous identity and many more. A consistent album that delivers on every track. Listen now to ‘End of the World‘ and have your heart broken.