Charlie Peacock – No Man’s Land

By Josh Hamm on October-2-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , , , , , | Share

Charlie Peacock – No Man’s Land
Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/5Score: 5/55
4.8 (8 votes)

Artist: Charlie Peacock
Title: No Man’s Land
Label: Twenty Ten Music
Release Date: 10/02/12
Reviewer: Josh Hamm

Tracklisting:

  1. Death Trap
  2. Mystic
  3. Voice Of The Lord
  4. Kite In A Tree
  5. Deep Inside a Word
  6. Let The Dog Back In The House
  7. Beauty Left The Room
  8. Till My Body Comes Undone
  9. Thinkin’ Till The Crack of Dawn
  10. Ghost Of The Kitty Cat
  11. Only You Can
  12. Satellites

Not many people I’ve talked to know the name Charlie Peacock. You may know him as the producer of The Civil Wars’ Barton Hallow, or the guy who discovered Switchfoot, produced Jon Foreman’s Season EPs, or from countless other behind the scenes work with artists, or maybe even from his jazz improvisations with Ravi Coltrane and Marc Ribot. Whether you had him pegged from his previous work, or you’re just hearing about him now, from now on you will know him as the man behind No Man’s Land.

Its vintage Americana like you’ve never heard it before: folk, country, jazz, R&B, big band, it’s all there. He says that he was “trying to capture something of the sound of [his] grandparent’s America – especially Louisiana and Oklahoma – Cajun two-steps, ruckus, and dust, lots of dust.”Peacock blends genres, instruments and stories together like an alchemist, and the fusion is pure gold.

From the first riff on the country flavoured “Death Trap,” you know that you’ve stumbled onto something amazing.  By the time you reach the bridge, with Peacock singing out “I Know better but I don’t know better, I know better but I don’t do better,” you wonder how the album could possibly get better. It does. Not only is Peacock himself in fine form, but his ensemble is impeccable, with his friends on the guitars, accordion, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, and fantastic background singers.

No Man’s Land captures the essence of what makes folk music great: storytelling. There’s a personable, very real spirit at the heart of each song. Nothing feels manufactured or fake, as he sings out on the soothing, beautiful “Mystic,” “this is my story/my story is my glory/my shame/my comfort/my hurt/ it’s all that I’ve got/ all that I’ve never had.” It’s not an album full of answers and it’s not full of questions, it’s the story of a “God-haunted” man waiting on the voice of the Lord.  Speaking of which, the eclectic “Voice of the Lord” is a perfect indication of the album full of folk and jazz influences which jump all over the place but creates one of the most interesting and compelling tracks. “Kite in a Tree” slows down the album, featuring incredibly introspective lyrics you’re be mulling over hours later:

“The aching feeds the fantasy/And the stage is set for God only knows/The ear is hearing whistles made of wood and reed /Telephones are ringing/A girl in blue is singing/And all I can hear is the sound of failure/This is not the promise of the glory of kings/It’s all brushstroke, no heart, no give and take delight /There’s that pain in my chest/That always comes on, right before a big fight/If belief is only a construct, my own little thumb suck / Then I’m a kite in a tree, a kite in a tree”

The incredibly stirring “Deep Inside A Word” follows up with a story of a “Texas troubadour, a California sage,” who is “caught up in the majesty/of everything he’s heard/in one lifetime he got more than he deserved/he’s deep inside a rhythm, deep inside a word.” The song builds perfectly with brilliant guitars and percussion, but climaxes in a spine tingling display of wailing electric guitar and sharp horns.

“Ghost of the Kitty Cat” is one of my favourites, on an album full of mostly serious, introspective lyrics and music; this is a throwback, rapid fire lyrics with a Cajun sound and a big band jazz element with a stand out brass section. It’ll put a smile on your face guaranteed:

“Go out back little one/ to the tool shed where you found that kitty cat stone cold dead/ guard your mind from the memory/ turn your head if it need be/ bring me a crow bar big enough to pry/ the front door open and don’t ask why/ if the ghost of the kitty cat comes for you/ you just run, we got work to do.”

There are no filler songs here, no weak songs; each song has its own unique DNA which stops the album from ever having a dull moment.  When the album’s over and the dust settles, all you want to do is listen to it all over again. It’s without a doubt one of the best releases of 2012.

Overall: This album goes deep into the forest of Americana, revealing the roots of folk and blues in such a versatile way that you’re never bored. Charlie Peacock is a true storyteller; a troubadour whose lyrics resonate with honesty, truth, and doubt.  No Man’s Land is a milestone in music, a masterpiece that revitalizes the past & infuses current music with fresh life at the same time.

RIYL: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Lost Dogs, The Choir, Reign of Kindo

 

Charlie Peacock - No Man's Land, 4.8 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Josh Hamm

About the author Josh Hamm

Josh is a writer from Vancouver, and when he’s not listening to music you can find him with a book in hand, watching a movie, or putting pen to paper. He tries to find God’s joy in everything around him. Sometimes he can, and sometimes he’s just not looking hard enough. View all posts by Josh Hamm

9 Responses to 'Charlie Peacock – No Man’s Land'

  1. KeithX says:

    “Not many people I’ve talked to know the name Charlie Peacock.” That’s a shame, really. Charlie has done a whole lot of great music. I started listening to his “Strangelanguage” album and have been a fan ever since. One of his earliest songs, “Lie Down In The Grass”, is one of those songs that always makes me happy.

    I was going to pick this up, but guess I have to give it a higher priority since you gave it a 5, Josh.

    • Josh Hamm says:

      Funnily enough, it’s only recently I heard of him, and as soon as I acquainted myself with his older stuff I saw he had a new album coming out. It’s definitley the calibre of album you want on high priority.

  2. I love Charlie Peacock. His album ‘Lie Down In The Grass’ as well as his work with Vector is some of my favorite music of the 80’s… but pretty much everything he touches is cool. I definately loved “Death Trap” from the first listen and can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!

  3. Jeremiah Holdsworth says:

    It’s funny you posted this because I was just reading up on Lauren Shera’s new album and she mentioned Charlie Peacock releasing a new album. I was thinking, I need to check that out, but you just sold it for me. :)

  4. Beth Daniel says:

    I’ve been a long time fan of Charlie Peacock, since his first album. This is one of my favorites though, so thoughtful and well done. I agree with your review 100%!

  5. KeithX says:

    This would be a great album except for a couple of things. First, there are a lot of artifacts when listening closely with a high end pair of headphones. Second, some of the lyrics are lame. For example, “If belief is only a construct, my own little thumb suck.” Otherwise, great bluesy, jazzy effort from Charlie.

  6. You’ve caught the album well, Josh.

    Just a comment on the ‘thumb-suck’ lyric… as you noted in your review, what he actually says is, “if belief is just a construct, my own little thumb-suck, then I’m a kite in a tree”. In other words, we can’t fly, can’t live as we’re meant to, if our faith is just made up to please ourselves.

    I read that as meaning that we are created to live a life of real faith that serves others, rather than just our own comfortable self-interest.

    If that’s correct, then the lyric is actually a key one, as deep and thoughtful as many on here.

    My favourite songs are “Till my Body Comes Undone,” which gets me in my deepest bits (“I’m running like a whirlwind, while waiting for the call / I’m tripping in the darkness, lit up like the sun / I’m falling for a vision till my body comes undone /I’m swimming in the blessing, not waiting round to die.”) and the vivid movie-scene storytelling of “Thinkin’ Till the Crack of Dawn”, which has a perfect mesh of words and music.

    I agree – this is one of the best of 2012 (along with Tord Gustavsen’s The Well, on the quality jazz ECM).

    walkerwords.wordpress.com

    • Josh Hamm says:

      Thanks Derek, that’s a good point about the lyric, even though it sounds awkward by itself, in the context of the whole song it fits well.

      Haven’t checked out Tord Gustavensen’s The Well, thanks for the tip!

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