The Essex based folk artist returned in late 2017 to deliver his second solo album, ‘So On’. It’s an album of great contrast, often bringing a lightness of touch to dark themes such as mental health and greed.
‘Lucifer the Landlord’ opens the album and immediately begs the question, has short termism ever been portrayed better, musically speaking. It’s one thing to call someone the devil but, to back it up sonically and with great imagery is another. It’s conscientious but never pious, as a result, it feels like poetry more than social comment which it most definitely is. So often, songwriters are in one of the two camps, Pearce has forced himself into an elite Venn diagram on this opener.
Former single ‘Heartbeat Mind’ is a slow building affair, with Pearce singing over the top a disconsolate heartbeat drum loop for most of it. Like Leonard Cohen’s ‘You Want It Darker’, it has the ability to sound warming and otherworldly simultaneously.
Vocally, Pearce has often been compared to Turin Brakes’ Olly Knights. Here though, Pearce adopts a smokier similar to the Reverend John McClure. This allows Rebecca Hammond to sprinkle a lightness on the backing vocals, which, immediately prior to the songs euphoric conclusion are nothing short of beautiful.
‘Oh Maria’, an ode to the Greek opera singer Maria Callas. Callas was a formidable but flawed talent who suffered greatly. Pearce conjures a sense of loss and longing of ‘what might have been’ and ‘yesteryear’ akin to a lonely storm swept coastal town.
Amid the ethereal folk lies a moment of Cat Stevens pop heaven. ‘Plastic Man’ is a like a lost treasure from the ‘Tea For Tillerman’ era. The infectious bass line and guitar riffs have an opulent effect which allow for an almost T-Rex-esque chorus to flourish.
‘So On’ is an album of varying late night atmospheres. One person’s relaxation here will be another’s soul searching. The ability to be all things to all people which are destined to make this a classic. It’s an album of John Martyn’s ambition, the innocence of Nick Drake and the lyricism of Leonard Cohen. Take a bow!