Peter Wolf Crier Inter-be

[Jagjaguwar; 2010]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: indie folk
Others: Iron and Wine, Volcano Choir, Dinner with Gregg

Feeling inspired one evening last summer, Minneapolis’ Peter Pisano sat down and drafted most of Peter Wolf Crier’s debut release, Inter-be, in one sitting. Over the following months, he continued to craft and shape the songs, eventually sharing them with friend and engineer Brian Moen, who added percussion and background layers. The resulting album stretches beyond the promise of both Pisano’s former work as Wars of 1812 and Moen’s time with Laarks to include a greater sense of melody and a more focused notion of development. In fact, there’s an uncanny sense of urgency in the way each of these tales progresses from modest beginning to peculiar end.

Working in the ambiguous “indie-folk” genre, comparisons to Bob Dylan or Iron and Wine would be expected, but with Moen’s additions, the album most resembles Justin Vernon’s Volcano Choir project, with its wide-open spaces and expansive aesthetics. However, Pisano never lets things get too sparse, as his lyrics give the songs a modern relevance. “Lion,” for example, describes its protagonist’s regrets mournfully: “Winter’s come, you say you’re leaving/ It does not make much sense now that you’re gone/ But I could risk a sorry/ As a fool would not be so hearty.” But the rapidly ticking cymbal and shuffling drumbeat create the feeling of chasing the lover down the driveway as she’s leaving, and that seems to be exactly the level of anguish that Pisano wants to convey.

“Saturday Night” moves along a similar path, with Pisano singing, “Poor in heart and rich in sin/ Desperate for your drink and stripped of my kin/ When the summer rain was all she wrote.” This time, however, the disappointment with an ended relationship is set against desolate guitar chords, evoking a hollow echo that parallels his character’s empty resentment. The stark minimalism turns macabre when Pisano promises, “My queen, you mean so much to me I swear/ I’ll be swift upon your throat,” leaving the threat of violence suspended in an ominous wash of reverb.

Indeed, broken relationships and crimes of passion are subjects that recur throughout the album (check out “Playwright,” where Pisano’s subject confesses an angry fratricide), but for all their despair and suggested violence, the songs ring with such warmth that it’s difficult to see each disturbance coming before it arrives. Perhaps that’s the redemption Pisano found in transcribing these tales; to get them out, and to place them in the context of amiable guitar chords and soothing drifts of summery sounds, must have been good catharsis. On most of these tracks, it makes for a good listen as well.

Links: Peter Wolf Crier - Jagjaguwar

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