Every song, when boiled down to it, it made up of music and lyrics. The good ones have depth to be explored, originality on both fronts. The bad ones – well just look at top 40 radio and you will have a good sampling; clever, catchy and shallow as the kiddie pool. Be prepared to jump in the deep end as you listen to Eric Peter’s newest offering, The Far Side of the Sea. Peter’s took his singer-songwriter template and allowed producer Gabe Scott to set the match, burning down to the elements and re-crafting with a fresh template.
In many ways, Far Side of the Sea is not a departure for Peters and that is a good thing. The ache is familiar as he works out his demons, not settling into despair and clinging to hope. His songwriting prowess is the backbone of every song, crafting poetry that takes on new color with every listen and exploration of song. However the project finds a new focus on his vocals and exploring colors from a distinctly “less organic style of production.” From the 80’s synth in the opening track “When the Lightening Strike” to the bouncy, clap and electro-pop of “Gravity (Vincent in Reverse)” to heart breaking “Beautiful One (Nowhere)”, it was clear that was the guitar would not be a focal point.
“When the Lightening Strikes” starts with perhaps the best opening line I have heard in any album in a long time. “I’ll never steal the show, but I once stole a car.” Both a true story and brilliant line, it set’s the tone for the album with the duality of ache, “I don’t want to go home, I want to go home.” Peters’ penchant for memorable lines continues throughout the entire album. “Field of Failure” line “My dying field stretches out into nothing, but come see a soul pulsing Lazarus blood” again captures that line between despair and hope in an evocative way that is impossible to ignore.
Perhaps Peters greatest strength has always been his lyricism. On Far Side of the Sea, the production does not diminish the ability of the lines to sink into the listeners psyche. Instead it amplifies; the painful “life is a whisper that’s spoken and gone, its words cling to those that remain” transitions to a layered vocal explosion at the end of “Beautiful One (Nowhere),” bursting with unreconciled hope as he sings “Come alive, my beautiful one.” The line on “Rusted Parts” “A sad surface that must be scratched, We take our scars, then we give them back, Even now on our darkest days, We look for the things we need to be brave” is given room to breathe, with layers of vocals giving space to allow the words to echo. The closer “Worst Parts”, a sweet tribute to his wife, lays out the plea and statement “Shine a light that will guide me home, I’m still afraid of being known (in all my worst parts)” and lets it echo as the closing line.
There is a reason that Eric Peters fans are so intensely loyal to his projects. His last three have been crowdfunded on the Kickstarter platform to bring these gems into reality. His unflinching honesty allows light to be recognized more clearly when the darkness is evident. Far Side of the Sea may be a departure musically from the typical but it remains a project that deserves to be heard. On “Farthest Shore”, he states “I lost my pride on the deep, dark sea, Fighting a current that carried me, I found my hope on the ocean floor, I’m not the same me anymore.” Here is to hoping that the hope carries him into creating further projects like this.