Elevate Difference

Shady Retreat

Here’s the dilemma: I like a lot of divergent genres. Living in northern Europe the past eighteen months, I’ve been able to embrace my unabashed love of electronic club music and synthpop. I live in the birthplace of Eurovision, in the land of ABBA. Well, I’m twenty miles south of Sweden, but you get the idea.

My partner and I are making plans to move home within the calendar year, though “home” may become anywhere from NYC to Silicon Valley because he’s a start-up guy looking for funding. On an intercontinental phone call with my Indiana-based best friend the other night, I lamented how much I would miss The Voice, a European answer to what MTV was when it actually played music. I can switch on the appallingly commercial station at almost any hour of the day and catch a mix of Danish bubblegum pop, American hip-hop, and French club music. “When I get back, I’ll have to go back to listening to my college radio cry rock again,” I moaned to my pal, only then fully realizing just how far removed I’d become from the world I’d once inhabited.

To ease back into the idea of being stateside, I’ve been listening to Peasant. A bit more heavy-handed production-wise compared to Damien Derose’s first album, Shady Retreat is an excellent follow-up for folks who dig mellow songwriter jams—or people like me, who have to force themselves back into a once-loved genre.

The opening track, “Thinking,” starts rather abruptly, almost as though the producer meant to fade up the track but got excited at the last minute. Thankfully, other songs make up for the unsettling intro. “Prescriptions” is a cross between mellow folk-rock and a country ballad, complete with the clop-clop horse trotting sound effect in the background. It may be nothing more elaborate than a block being hit with a stick a la elementary school music class, but it produced an endearing, lo-fi quality for a wanna-be country gal like myself. I even felt my own Midwestern instincts kicking back in as I listened to “Into the Woods.” “Don’t go out into the woods,” Derose croons. No joke. I can get behind staying home where it’s safe and warm.

If you think you’re a club kid who hates sad bastard singer-songwriters, think again.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, April 4th 2010