Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
Typically when I delve into an artist’s music, I have a level of understanding of their act via a website, social networking, or the like. In this case, however, I was presented with only five audio files. Thus, when tackling the new songs from Peter Ernst’s upcoming record, ‘Roundabout,’ I was able to peer through a rather unique lens, one unadulterated by anything outside of the music itself. How do the five songs stack up? Let’s find out.
The title track introduces Ernst’s music with eclectic instrumentation and vocals. Immediately, his production quality is remarkably high. Everything is mixed elegantly with tight percussion, methodic acoustic guitar and piano, and infectious backup vocals. Musically, Ernst embraces a singer songwriter style with a pop flair. This makes his music accessible and compelling with one of the best choruses I’ve heard in the indie scene this year. In the verses, Ernst’s vocals sometimes fall flat, but it’s not a regular occurrence.
‘Train To Mandalay’ continues Ernst’s exhibition of superb instrumental composition. The sonic landscape of ‘Mandalay’ is excellent and actually accents Ernst’s vocal style even better than ‘Roundabout.’ At this point, it’s worth touching on his lyricism as well. As aforementioned, Ernst can write a killer hook, which in itself a rare skill. ‘Train To Mandalay’ opens up a different box, however, and showcases Ernst as a strong, wholly original lyricist.
Ernst commands each of his tunes with a presence unlike anything I’ve seen in the independent community thus far this year. Despite the complexity of his sound, Ernst owns his sound so incredibly well that his delivery feels completely effortless and carefree. ‘Big Blue Water’ is another terrific example of this, perhaps marking the strongest outing of the five.
The string section matched beautifully with a soft acoustic guitar on ‘Any Other Way’ accentuates Ernst with such gorgeous brevity. Vocally, he tips the scale on this track and provides the most haunting, stunning performance of the five. The tune feels deeply personal and emotional, leaving the listener awestruck at its simplistic charm.
Based on these five tracks, I couldn’t be more excited about ‘Roundabout.’ These songs exhibit an immense amount of talent and personality. Ernst’s style is authentic as can be, and intensely enjoyable throughout the excursion. I haven’t seen such a strong indicator of an album’s potential in a very long time. I’m more than a bit impatient for its full release in December.