Inside of You
Although titularly a solo album, Petunia’s Vipers are wholly-enrolled in kicking his second release into shape, along the way pinning down, with a combination of aggression, artfulness and grace, a further twelve tracks which should serve to enhance this enigma's reputation no end.
In line with Petunia’s own philosophy, ’If there's something you believe in, start on it today’, there was no hanging about in recording Inside of You, it completed within three days, and the frenetic pace of the uptempo numbers mirrors that frenzy. With Patrick Metzger’s booming bass providing the foundation, the heavily-reverbed surf guitar of ‘Runaway Freight Train Heart’ sounds as if Cliff Gallup is spooking the studio. Reprising the sound on ‘Primitive Love’, but with added jagged menace and Mariachi trumpet recalling a re-purposed John Ford western soundtrack, Petunia’s howls are almost overwhelmed by the pounding racket.
Balance is the name of the game, though and Petunia’s croaking croon over the swing of ‘Forgotten Melody’ and the gentle jazz chords, fiddles and military percussion of ‘Lucille’ are gentler examples of his ability to straddle genres and cherry-pick the elements needed to suit his message. Even the buzzing of amplification is left unedited in the latter to give atmosphere to what almost amounts to a song cycle in a little over five giddy minutes.
‘Gunned Down’, a waltz-time Hank Williams-reminiscent deathbed lament cools things a little but the frenzied rockabilly swing pace is restored by ‘They Almost Had Me Believing’, complete with Petunia trademark yodel and strangely-soothing lapsteel before nominal closer (a mystery additional track is on the pressing) continues in the same vein with Stephen Nikleva channelling Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins to fantastic atmospheric effect.
The best vocal performance, however, is reserved for ‘Bicycle Song’, where over the low-octave chatter and whine of guitar and steel, Petunia’s delivery ranges from a rich treacly croak to a Jeff Buckley-like soaring purity in wholly-natural swoops and dips. Beguiling.
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