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Peasant – On The Ground
On The Ground - Paper Garden Records
Pennsylvania’s Damien DeRose’s sophomore release under the pseudonym Peasant is a soulful collection of thirteen little acoustic ditties. Unfortunately for him, On The Ground seems to be struggling to find a place to sit on an ever dwindling fence because as it is On The Ground is straddling the line between peaceful beauty and forgettable background music.
With each passing song, Peasant is able to transport the listener to simpler times with a highly polished acoustic pop sound. The songs are simple, soft and delicate ballads delivered with carefully tuned guitars and padded vocals akin to City & Colour. But it seems that no matter how hard he tries, the record is unable to connect to the listener as much as you feel DeRose wanted it to. While there are a few fleeting moments of sincere balladry, On The Ground tends to simply fall into the background and become a peaceful melody poised delicately in the backdrop instead of something that grabs the listener’s attention.
It’s a pity too because the songs themselves are well written, somewhat catchy and serene. They tend to sit somewhere between the City & Colour and Jack Johnson spectrum with an occasional deter to a more falsetto tone that sounds similar to a slower version of Dashboard Confessional. Songs such as Fine Is Fine, Stop For Her, Impeccable Manners and Those Days which are filled with a slightly more energetic beat to them and vocals that sit higher in the mix are the ones that are able to captivate the listener’s imagination while others tend to become soft filler.
One highlight of the album is DeRose’s successful separation of the album into two parts. The first half features a sparser sound with really only the guitar and vocals (excluding We’re Good which has piano, drums and bass on it among other elements) while the second half sees DeRose experimenting slightly. The songs still remain in the same general theme and tone as their predecessors but he also adds a few extra layers to the back half. Be it claps on You Don’t Know or the combination of a more distinct guitar and distorted keyboard with tambourines on Birds, the second half of the album seems to have a fuller sensation to it. Unfortunately, the slight changes is not as evident as one may have hoped as it doesn’t become clear until you go out of your way to hear the difference.
There’s truly nothing wrong with On The Ground but there’s nothing all that memorable about it either. The songs are nice, peaceful, acoustic-pop melodies to play in the background but a month from now the name will no longer ring a bell because Peasant were unable to give the record a sense of uniqueness.