07 July 2011

Kevin Pearce: "Pocket Handkerchief Lane"

My many thanks to Kevin Pearce for keeping SDM Blog in the loop.

A few months back, I reviewed Skywatchers’ “The Skywatchers Handbook” (link), and among many things that really got me about the album were Kevin Pearce’s chops as a vocalist. Does he sing with passion and conviction? Check. Is he emotive while singing? Check. Does his voice have a distinctive quality to it? Check. At the end of it all, those are the three things that make a great vocalist. The problem with vocalists that can check these three categories is composing music that complements and draws out all of the smaller, finite qualities of their singing. That is what makes “Pocket Handkerchief Lane” an amazing album. Being released later this autumn, Pearce’s debut solo album combines subtlety with sophistication, poetry with melody, strong vocals with savvy musical arrangements, and current indie hooks with English folk. Furthermore, when you cite Mogwai and Talk Talk as influences, you get my attention immediately.

“Pocket Handkerchief Lane” is one of those albums that is hard to write about simply because I do not want to stop listening to it; track to track, the album flows with unbridled ease, with the delicateness of lullabies while being loaded with visceral power. From the opening, “Get By,” when Pearce sings, “and I realize I have grown,” you immediately understand that what follows is contemplated lyrics and emotive music. This could not be more true about “Burning Summer Sun,” my favorite track of the album … my favorite track of the year so far. The arrangements are very simple, the lyrics universal (“And I don’t want to be alone”). This song will hit chords in anyone who has ever felt lonely. However, there is never a pleading for someone else, to get rid of the loneliness; rather, there is just a conscious admission of that loneliness, a somewhat subdued, reluctant acceptance.

The big surprise on the album is the near electropop “Vultures.” Sensual and mysterious, Pearce’s vocals do not skip a beat when sung over sheer electronic arrangements. Singing over electronic music is most definitely harder than “standard” instruments, because the entire warmth of the song is going to depend solely on the vocals. “Vultures” is just that – warm; Pearce is able to bring the same emotiveness to this track as all the other on the album. Giving into complete indie guitar pop, “Don’t Fall Down” hooks you immediately with some interesting acoustic strumming, what makes the song really distinct from its indie brethren is that it is one of those rare indie guitar pop songs that is not prepackaged, feigned anxiety. Ingeniously, Pearce is able to strut his pop sensibility while remaining contemplative and lyrically sincere.

I may be the first to be saying this: place Kevin Pearce’s “Pocket Handkerchief Lane” on your radar, as its release is still some time off. In a world where music (more and more) is becoming prepackaged, scene-based releases, it is always refreshing to see an independent artist able to produce music with substance and sincerity.

Track Listing:
1. Get By
2. Older Times
3. Don’t Fall Down
4. Turn Me to Ice
5. Waste
6. Take Us to the Waterfall
7. Burning Summer Sun
8. Don’t Tell My Heart
9. Vultures
10. Seeds of Summer Fruits
11. Last Blow Out

Keep up with Kevin Pearce at his MySpace and Facebook.

Here are the tracks “Don’t Fall Down” and “Vultures” from Kevin Pearce’s Soundcloud.

DONT FALL DOWN by kevinpearcemusic

VULTURES by kevinpearcemusic

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