Peasant | On the Ground
Most Likely To: make a strong appeal to your inner romantic.
Empathetic and dreamy, Peasant’s latest release, On the Ground, is fitting for folk fiends as well as winter’s chilly weather. Doylestown, Pennsylvania native Damien Derose’s third album conjures cozy narratives between chords and metaphors. This album, from start to finish, is a well needed alternative to acts like Iron and Wine and Sufjan Stevens.
On the Ground‘s first track is bright and slightly cheerful, while the following “Fine Is Fine” plays out in a more bare bones fashion, highlighting Derose’s earnest vocals and delicate chord progressions. The song’s hints of Americana are as charming as its opening line, “Talk over, talk over every little sound / Gone twenty on thirty, can’t we just be friends?” Derose’s lyrical construction is simple but profound, its lack of ambiguity refreshingly brave and genuine.
Third is “Stop For Her,” which instantly brings to mind Elliott Smith’s unforgettable Figure 8. Less pessimistic than Smith’s jaded approach, “Stop For Her” addresses similar longings, giving voice to the tired romantic still holding on for hope. “We’re Good” is more pop ballad than folky, but sounds just as honest as its preceding tracks, illustrating Derose’s stylistic range and craft as a songwriter. “Raise Today” and “Exposure,” much like “Stop for Her,” are also reminiscent of Smith, tugging listener’s heartstrings with airy vocals and melodies. Audibly comparable to a number of songs in Smith’s discography, the songs’ similarities, though prevalent, only suggest the genius of its creator rather than sounding like carbon copies or spin-offs.
The album’s title track, “On the Ground,” revisits a bygone romance and its leftovers of nostalgia in a concisely intimate way. Avoiding the pitfalls of exaggeration, Derose’s frankly candid retelling is relatable in a hauntingly tangible way, captivating its listener and is worthy of repeat listens.
The first few seconds of “Missing All You Are” sound like a long lost Death Cab track, then blossoms into a full-fledged folky chorus similar to Saddle Creek’s Neva Dinova, but without the lethargy. “Birds,” exhibiting undertones of desperation and yearning, is short yet lastingly impressive while the album’s third to last track, “Not Your Saviour,” plays out like an energized rendition of Bon Iver’s “Creature Fear” with its emotionally forthright chorus. All of which suggess Derose has successfully tapped into the indie-folk zeitgeist and made the most of it.
Listen to “On the Ground” from Peasant: