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Music Review: Alice Peacock – Love Remains

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Alice Peacock has taken her philosophy of writing songs ‘that speak for people who might not be able to speak for themselves’ and produced an album full of real life observations relevant to us all. Love Remains, her latest of four highly impressive albums, is a characteristically brave, and often spiritual record which tackles some weighty issues among its fifteen tracks.

Alice, the daughter of a Methodist minister, grew up, like a lot of preacher offspring, singing in church. Teaming up with co-writer and co-producer Danny Myrick, himself the child of a Baptist minister, sees her addressing issues such as faith, hope, love, and many more of life’s big hitting questions. Having said that, this album comes at you with a vibrant air of upbeat connection, that makes the whole hour long experience a rewarding and at times joyous experience.

Since appearing on the scene with Real Day, Alice has released three albums, the last of which, 2005s Who I Am, was a largely introspective piano led release.

In many ways she takes a leap of faith with Love Remains. For the album she teamed up with an impressive list of Nashville musicians that include pedal steel player Dan Dugmore (Linda Ronstadt), guitarists Kenny Greenberg (Willie Nelson) and Rob McNelley (Delbert McClinton), drummer Will Denton (Steven Curtis Chapman), and multi-instrumentalist Phil Madeira (Emmylou Harris).

Love Remains is a rich tapestry of country flavoured songs that are set amid waves of rootsy Americana. Alice recognizes the undoubted power of music to connect with people from all walks of life and delivers songs that radiate honesty.

They range from the downtrodden and misunderstood as on “I Am Mary”, the disarming self-reflection of “All About Me” (written along with John Paul White), or the vulnerable Gospel soaked “Trying To Hold Back Time”.

Set in amongst these are songs of defiance, such as “Forgiveness”, the vibrant story of “Real Life”, and “City Of Angels” which deals with what she experienced in Los Angeles earlier in her career. Alice reflects, ‘I don’t need to be a star down on Sunset Boulevard, living an empty dream, where things ain’t what they seem. City Of Angels you’re no good for me’.

The message of this album is clear whilst many of the things we hold dear are actually built on sand the essence of life holds true and ultimately we all hope that Love Remains

It also seems to be an acknowledgement of where she is as a performer and person at this stage in her life and career. The first track, despite it’s opening statement of defiance, evolves into a song that accepts that life is not “All About Me”. This is a fine opening that most of us who have ever dreamed of taking off like some road movie will be able to instantly identify with.

There are many lines within this album that ring loud and true. Alice wrote “I Am Mary” with Greg Becker, a song about a real life incident. In the song Alice delivers one of those powerful lyrics when she sings ‘life’s a fabric, but when I grabbed it, all I got was a handful of threads’.

“Angel” tells of the yearning for a child that has yet to be conceived. ‘Somehow I know that somehow you can hear me’. It’s heartrending, it’s painful, and yet it is also a song of faith and hope. The beautiful “Trying To Hold Back Time”, the resolute “Forgiveness”, and the revealing “Hard Way” all have their own powerful messages.

This album will have you gazing into the half distance reflecting on moments in your life when you could have taken a different path. Musically the style roams nicely between the gentle country flavour of “Wrong Time”, the shambling guitar on “All About Me”, or the California country of “Love Remains”.

Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel adds wave upon wave of gorgeous texture, whilst Alice contributes splashes of harmonica, above her powerful, yet soothing vocals. In fact her voice is an intoxicating mixture of passion, confidence, vulnerability, and soothing sensuality.

Apart from the very opening line of the album, the song that will doubtless attract the lions-share of attention must be “If I Could Talk To God”. It's message is timely in a world full of madness when faith is a hard and often unfathomable thing to hold on to. Written by two children of church families it asks the very question we would all ask, and the one that no-one can seem to answer.

‘Everywhere I look, children hungry, people hurting, is it working?’ Through the power of music she then turns the question on its head and as God answers with devastating simplicity we are pitched into an upbeat inspirational song about love.

Alice Peacock’s journey has already produced three highly acclaimed albums. Nashville is clearly a good place for her to be as she has produced an album that takes her another step forward along the path. It’s an album all about this crazy, yet beautiful world we all live in. Real life observations from a real life troubadour.

Please call in and have a listen at her MySpace page or follow the link above.

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About Jeff Perkins