There is a timeless feel to this second album from Indiana troubadour Peter Oren. From the first few plucked notes of ‘Burden Of Proof’, it’s one of those records that might have been released in 1967, 1987 or 2017, and you’d never be able to guess which. This is straight-up singer-songwriter fare with a richly melancholic tinge. Something like a more mature and more richly-voiced Willy Mason, Oren tackles similarly lofty political and personal themes, and lines like “the Bible Belt’s talking to itself all night on the FM waves” permeate these distinctly American songs.
There are some real pearls here – ‘Pictures from Spaine’ is layered, evocative and bursting with a muted kind of emotion, while ‘Falling Water’ is the kind of purely sad-toned highway blues that you could listen to until sunrise. But a record like this engenders conflict in the mind of the listener. Every now and then the rich overlaying of songwriting and lyrical brilliance wears threadbare, and a patchy kind of pastiche shows through that is difficult to ignore.