VANESSA PETERS - MODERN AGE

Release Date: 
23.04.2021
Label/Vertrieb: 
Idol Records/Cargo

Photo credits: Rip Rowan


“There are plans, and then there’s how it all works out.” Vanessa Peters penned that line almost a decade ago, but never was it truer than in 2020.  In late February 2020, Peters was in Italy, getting ready to go on a European tour with her band. She had just launched a Kickstarter to fund her latest album, Modern Age - it was fully funded within 3 days - and recording sessions were already scheduled for March. After the tour in Europe, the band planned to head to Austin, Texas for SXSW and then to record the album with her friend and old tourmate, Grammy-award winning producer Joe Reyes and engineer wunderkind Jim Vollentine. 

 

But when Italy suddenly went into a national lockdown, Peters and her husband / bandmate Rip Rowan had to make a choice whether to stay or go. “We knew there was no way to get our Italian bandmates to America, and it was anyone’s guess when borders would open again or when it would be safe to resume international travel,” Peters said.  “As weeks turned into months, it became increasingly evident that a recording session in Texas just wasn’t in the cards in 2020.”  So with a busted tour and over a dozen new songs ready to record, Peters needed a new plan - preferably one that didn’t require days on end in a windowless studio with the ever-present risk of COVID infection.

 

Building on a series of demos recorded on the road in the Netherlands and Germany during their last tour, the band holed up in a farmhouse in Castiglion Fiorentino, the small town in Italy that Peters had once called home. Over the course of 10 days, the band worked to finish the songs they’d begun the year prior and to tackle the batch of new songs that Vanessa had written in the meantime.

 

Peters’s previous album of original material, Foxhole Prayers, was a successful and critically-acclaimed folk/rock endeavour that put Peters on the national stage with a glowing 4-star MOJO review plus invitations to perform at NPR’s Mountain Stage, 30A, and AmericanaFest. Foxhole Prayers focused on the perilous rise of populist politics and the seemingly incessant swirl of violence around us - a deeply introspective album, very much in line with what reviewers and fans have come to expect from Peters.

 

In true 2020 fashion, Modern Age turns those expectations upside-down. From the opening power chords of the title track, it’s obvious that this album is headed in a new direction; collaborating closely with her band brought a fresh, raucous energy to this collection that has rarely surfaced before outside of Peters’s live shows. “I sometimes wonder: why do people want me to make the same record over and over? It’s easy to get stuck in the idea of what others expect of me; I wanted to push back against that.”

Songs like “Crazymaker” are rich with driving electric guitars atop 4-on-the-floor AC/DC-inspired drum beats, while the insistent, pulsing keyboards and angular guitar riffs on “Hood Ornament” call to mind bands like Spoon and LCD Soundsystem. Yet despite the shimmery pop-rock packaging these songs are wrapped in, Peters doesn’t shy away from pulling the lyrical punches she is known for. She’s downright angry on “Yes,” unleashing a tidal wave of frustration at being written off as a “chick singer.” On “Make Up My Mind,” she wrestles with indecision and self doubt, channeling 90s-era Smashing Pumpkins grunge, while “Never Really Gone” is a luminous, Fleetwood Mac-esque take on the joy of discovering that you can, in fact, go home again.

 

 

For years it’s been too easy to casually lump Vanessa Peters into a kind of generic Americana category, when in reality her records have run the gamut from indie-pop to alt-country to experimental folk to 70s-era throwback singer/songwriter rock. But in Modern Age, she has stripped away all songwriterly pretense to build a modern/classic rock album that reveals a steely defiance. In the midst of a truly dark year, she and the band have conspired to make an album that is simultaneously powerful but playful; intense yet sensitive; both angry and hopeful. In Modern Age, we find Peters once again writing and delivering songs of exceptional lyrical and musical power, further cementing her reputation among the new generation of American songwriters.

 

 

https://vanessapeters.com/

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