Peach and Quiet
Peach and Quiet Music
Gorgeously Crafted Canadian Americana, Sent From a Log Cabin with Love and Aimed Straight for our Hearts.
I was heading for a writer’s brick wall after spinning four new releases that I failed to connect with, but then thankfully RMHQ worked its’ magic and the second album from this Canadian folk and Country rock duo landed!
Despite the odds; this one saved the day (as I have a lifelong phobia with insects) so a gigantic image of an African Peach Moth as cover art is as scary as it gets for me, evoking memories of all those Ray Harryhausen films……but hey that’s my issue!
Whilst I can still appreciate the colours and symbolism, the true beauty of this stunning album for me is the pure talent and dynamics of the partnership between Jonny Miller and Heather Read.
Individually they are great artists but after just a few plays I can appreciate that together they create serene, insanely catchy and sweet melodies to dive into with both voices blending gorgeously, bringing equal amounts of personality and emotions to their 12 songs.
This album is all about the long game: no whirlwind gimmicks here, just songs to tug at your heart, tap along to and destined to keep you in good company and become life-long friends.
The title track and opener ‘Beautiful Thing’ is a killer start with it’s descending hook and a mature upbeat approach.
Jonny Miller’s vocals are full of easy warmth and richness, gently touring us around their world, one foot in a Canadian forest log cabin and the other on the sun- drenched Pacific Highway.
The lyrics stakes out a mood of hope and optimism;
“Oh sweet honey won’t you look at me now?
I got waylaid and lost but I figured it out”
‘Calgary Skyline’ carries on with an energetic trip, Miller and Read’s vocals together working their magic and Steve Dawson’s outstanding guitar twang then swapping out for a menacingly dark heavy rock rift: sounds weird but it’s unexpectedly exquisite.
The songs just keep hitting the spot, one after the other: honestly many artists would be doing well to have half this number of divine songs on one album.
‘Behind The Sun’ is a slower hypnotically bluesy, psychedelic rock fuelled song exploring the themes of anguish and destruction that often hides in the shadows of love and light: deep words that drift into a dreamily expansive woozy guitar solo coupled with Hammond sounds which sent me into a reflective trance by the end!
It feels only right for the keys to make such a distinctive contribution to the entire album when we learn that Heather’s dad was playing the Hammond organ well into his ‘80’s so it was a key part of her upbringing.
To follow that we absorb the sweet retro folk based ‘Just Before Dawn’, Heather Read’s voice ringing out like a songbird with an irresistible tale of patiently waiting for the one you love to return, tapping into the vibe of living simply and akin with nature, with the final verse emphasizing that by containing a quote from American naturalist Henry Thoreau:
“In that morning hour just west of the sun
The old owl cries, her nightly mourn
I will wait in my bed for my only love
With infinite expectations of the dawn”
The scales are now balanced as two travelling songs are soaked with Miller’s heritage of being raised by his DJ dad and exposed to Reggae and Californian rock as a boy: the chilled out, brilliantly cool, catchy Country reggae beat of ‘Horse and Saddle’ with it’s story of journeying back to a loved one, treads a path steeped in extra gravel from Miller’s expressive vocals.
The other is an Americana tale: ‘Oklahoma or Arkansas’, an absorbing adventure of leaving home, hiding from the world to find oneself again, then building up to a cinematic image of lovers reunited:
“Wait for my letter, when the spring arrives
Buy a Greyhound ticket, and a dress that’s white
I’ll be standing in my Sunday suit,
A Panama hat, and my daddy’s boots”
Narrowing down favourites is as tricky as it gets with this release.
By a tiny margin ‘This Time’ and ‘Save Me Tonight’ miss out.
The former is a sumptuous love story about learning from the past and ‘getting it right’. Heather’s vocals are smoulderingly triumphant and when Jonny’s B/V’s join in there is no doubt that this pair are the real deal both emotionally and musically. ‘Save Me Tonight’ is a bluesy tale of a hard life on the road, the choppy keys team with a shimmering guitar solo to energize the track with the hope of love and happiness.
The top slot has gone to a song which totally gripped me on first listen: Heather powerfully and vulnerably belts out a story of domestic abuse as if she has lived out every sad detail; that I don’t know but the grey areas of lingering sorrow despite escaping everything are thought provoking, the lyrics explore the instinct to blame yourself a little when things go badly wrong:
“Why couldn’t I see it
I was blind to all the signs
I didn’t want to believe it
So now I’m the woman with the empty house
No honey and a big black eye”
Then; there is Pockets Empty, which is something of a cornerstone for these 12 songs. Exceptionally well observed, written and sung; in another life time it could easily have been a Power Ballad; but here Steve Dawson; alongside Miller and Read rein it in just enough for it for this deep break-up song to become my Favourite Song by a Country mile.
It’s incredible to think these two only teamed up in 2019, the songs feel so naturally evolved and perfected.
I’m very relieved to have faced my fears with the aforementioned cover because the appeal of this duo definitely lies deep within their passionate melodies and togetherness.
I’ll be playing these songs long after the ‘review pen’ has been put away.
Review by Anita Joyce
Released 20th January 2023
BY DON’T SPOTIFY