My favourite album of 2015 to date is Peter Daltrey's "The Life of a Butterfly". Here's a review of it by myself:
THE LIFE OF A BUTTERFLY, by Peter Daltrey (John Etherington)
Peter Daltrey is most-widely known as the leader of the Sixties U.K. psychedelic group, Kaleidoscope (later re-named Fairfield Parlour). Since then, he has made a number of solo albums and worked on many artistic projects. In 2013, to much acclaim, he revived Kaleidoscope with members of the country’s premier psych-folk group, the Trembling Bells. Now, Peter has released an outstanding album “The Life of a Butterfly”, which is very different to his earliest offerings, and one which should appeal to people who like artists such as Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, and early Scott Walker (yes, it’s that good!). “Life of a Butterfly”, like several great albums, is one that I didn’t fully appreciate on first listen, but its many qualities soon began to unfold. It is musically very strong, with memorable melodies and excellent and varied guitar-work. Peter’s voice is perfectly suited to the material, which he conveys with compassion, especially when dealing with themes of loss and addiction.
The album opens with the plaintive title-track “The Life of a Butterfly”. When Peter sings the words, “Tell me, do you want to live alone” (repeated three times) his voice is particularly affecting. The second track “William Burroughs Hat”; has an up-tempo and catchy tune that is driven along by guitar and harmonica. The opening lines are typical of Peter's astute lyrics: “William Burroughs hat was laying on the sidewalk/exterrestrials were sipping English tea/the world was turning on its lonely winter axis/I was loving you, but you weren’t loving me”. Next- up is a cover of Kate Rusby’s sweet pastoral song “The Lark”, which is greatly enhanced by Peter’s interpretation, and the way he sings the words ”Is it wrong to think you still need me” is again very touching. This track combines some lovely harmonica playing and sweeping orchestral sounds, to great effect. It is followed by an equally beautiful and haunting song of Peter’s titled “You”, which includes some poignant guitar work and evocative imagery. From this, come the lines “Time is a healer, time is our friend/time is bleeding, but the bleeding will never end”. By contrast “California” features powerful acoustic and electric guitar playing. This is the most rock-oriented track of the album, and the sort of song that Neil Young might have written about an American state (don’t expect “California Dreaming”!).
Another very moving track is “The Needle Comes Too soon”, which in melody and the use of the word “babe” bears some resemblance to Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”. Here, the resonant guitar sound counterbalances the stark subject-matter of the song (“the crucifix, the dreamer and the friend, and the needle come too soon” sings Peter). An effective change is made to the tempo when he sings, “How are you gonna make it in this town, when the edifice falls down?”. This is followed by the baroque-influenced “Le Petite Madelaine” a song which, in style and theme, is not unlike the Zombies “A Rose For Emily”. Sweeping orchestral and flute sounds also give it a Moody Blues flavour. Typical lyrics are “Le Petite Madelaine/your death on love’s cross was a mystery”. Ominous humming and more evocative imagery follow in “The Two Blind Boys from Harrow Farm”. This dark tale is what one might have expected if Jacques Brel had collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on the soundtrack of “The Birds”! More buoyant and musically strong is the song “Down and Out”, which features multi-level guitars and driving cellos. Starting with guitar reminiscent of that on Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag”, “The Wind and the Sky” conveys a feeling of spaciousness. Repetitive guitar chords are used to great effect, as they also are on the final track, “The Ashes and the Fire”. In this moving anthem, Peter conjures images of Chelsea from the lost “golden era” of the Sixties/Seventies (as he previously did in his song ,”A Linden Tree in Chelsea”). The beauty and sadness of this last number brings tears to my eyes. In conclusion, I cannot recommend this album highly enough. If good taste prevailed it would sell by the thousand.
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