The gruff and impatient Mr. Peeples is back after the 2009 release of Pawnshop (here), a release that also reflected exactly what this disc's lead song avers: My People Come from the Dirt, a refrain embroidering the CD entire. On this outing, however, producer and multi-axeman Gurf Morlix steps in as a rather talented fellow adding a whole new dimension to Peeples' rough-hewn jes' folks backbone. Frankly, Morlix reminds me of Ernie Lancaster's way-too-righteous musicianship with Root Boy Slim, though Grant and the Rootster are not very similar at all. Come to think of it, neither are Morlix and Lancaster…but it's the frosting on hardtack I'm thinking of, y'know?
Empty Cup is a particularly interesting cut, a strangely masochistic paean to the narrator's agonizing desire undercut by a sonic approach as simple and direct as the lyrical and vocal content. An' I don't know how Morlix mixed "John L and Helen"—he's also the engineer—but I almost jumped out of my skin when it came on. The vocals are so up front that it sounds like Peeples is in the room with you, three feet in front of the speakers. Then Gurf steps on his guitar as though it were a synthesizer in Lethal Injection Blues, and, yep, as odd as that may sound, it's evident Grant definitely made the right choice with this cat.
Don't come to the table hopped up on Dale Carnegie philosophies or Oprah Winfrey gooey giddiness, brother, 'cause Peeples will have you taking a knife to your own throat inside three minutes if'n ya do. His music ain't eggsackly whatcha call yer basical cheery and comradely, even when it sounds like it is, as in Buffalo Hunt, which initially seems zydeco giddy but is really telling you to:
Pull the trigger and then aim
When it comes down to it, Grant Peeples is a miner who decided he wanted to be a musician but never left the coal black darkness behind. Okra and Ecclesiastes is rutted-road folk through and through, much more so than Pawnshop was. Down Here in the County, f'rinstance, drags Dire Straits through the gutter to kick up the chargin'est cut in the disc before letting into the John Hartfordy High Fructose Corn Syrup and closing things out. You never quite know whether to judge the cat as a pissed-off folkie, a back alley bluesman, a barstool philosopher holding forth on whatever comes to his heated and swozzled mind, or the makings of a revolutionary.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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