It must be really difficult in this multimedia age, with music of myriad styles more accessible than ever, for a young artist to choose what style to focus in. Because people do pick their styles, right? They’re not born preternaturally disposed to one style or another. In theory, Jack White could’ve chosen to become a rapper, a Barry Manilow-esque pop star, a jazz pianist. But he chose to become a bluesy rocker, because he likes that musical style best.
So here’s some inner monologue I imagine Peter Walker might have had when sitting down to craft his first EP, Young Gravity: “Let’s see, who do I wanna emulate? I wonder if that whole New York City/back to raw rock/Strokes-ish sound has any life left to it. Enough for at least one track, right? So I’ll charge out of the gates with ‘What Do I Know.’ Who else? Wilco is really cool — the American Radiohead. Who wouldn’t want to aspire to that? So the next couple of tracks, ‘39 Stars‘ and ‘Flagship,’ should be more alt-country, twangy, fuzzy. Hell, people have told me my voice sounds a bit like Jeff Tweedy’s. But I can howl like Jack White too when I’m feeling the blues, so I’ll go in that direction on “Sleepin’ Around” and “Preacher.”
And on it went. And now the finished product comes with little to commend. The pretty, soft title track, if by some long shot given a chance on Top 40 radio, might find a popular place between James Blunt and Coldplay. “By a Thread,” with Walker screaming the title over and over, is at least emotive, whereas most of the album is mid-tempo and languid. Closer “On TV” is hauntingly spare in its instrumentation, but its lyrics are clichéd — Walker bitching about all the fakeness he sees on the tube. And major points off for “New Orleans.” I lived there for four years, but after repeated listening to this song, I could not figure out what the hell it has to do with the Big Easy.
Walker has recently been touring with Band of Horses, which earlier this year showed how to take a bunch of influences, blend them up, and come out on the other side with an interesting, even original, sound. Walker should take notes.
“What Do I Know” MP3
“Young Gravity” MP3
Dangerbird Records Web site: http://www.dangerbirdrecords.com/
Peter Walker Web site: http://www.peterwalkermusic.com/
Streaming audio: http://www.myspace.com/peterwalker