Gallery 47 might sound like a high street card shop, but is the working name adopted by prolific singer-songwriter, Jack Peachey. Originally Nottingham-based, he relocated to London, has already released three well-received albums and toured with the likes of Paul Weller and Ian McCulloch (to name but two). Adversity Breeds is his fourth album to date.
Adversity Breeds forms the second part of a trilogy. A comparison with Clean – the album that starts the trilogy off – only highlights the optimism and romance described therein. Adversity Breeds is a different beast: spikier, more politicised, the moody offspring of a cross-generational family argument.
From the outset, this is an assured set of songs. Lyrically, they tumble over themselves with densely packed, often oblique, references. Conversational tone is jumbled up with a poetic sensibility. Witty lines squat down unselfconsciously alongside tart polemic.
‘In Odessa’ is a pointed, relevant state-of-the-world commentary set to a beautifully dark piano. Lines like “they loved the sound of his rhetoric, it blinded them to the things he did” are entirely pertinent in these fake news times, as is “And everybody’s got guns, how do you think you’ll stop the firing?”
‘Mr Baudelaire’, a much older song from his repertoire, documents his coming to terms with the random cruelty of the music industry. The vocal, over a gently plucked guitar, shifts from trying to please and getting nowhere, to bitterness at the casual dismissal of his talents, to a final reconciliation with the lottery of success.
‘Copyright Final’ takes a blithe sideswipe at the money-obsessed self-made type who drives “a Porsche Carrera, he lives in the London suburbs, he buys all original vinyl”, but is “just so busy, he can’t see his kids”, all set to a chugging, rolling blues and mouth harp.
Musically, Peachey’s Americana influences are obvious, especially on tracks like ‘Cold Fire’ and the shuffling ‘Your Time’ (this latter also featuring electronic blips and unsettling backing vocals). ‘Emigrate’ is the hard-bitten, harmonica-laden porch blues of a much older man.
The opening song, ‘Sanity Is Not Statistical’, has echoes of the Flaming Lips’ wonky psychedelia. Peachey’s high register vocals also call to mind Wayne Coyne’s vibrato, as well as Elliott Smith’s breathy intimacy.
Peachey shows a keen ear for arrangement, with a delicate interplay of instruments and subtle use of effects. Vocals are often multi-tracked, layered to provide a complex, reverby vocal line or built up into dense harmonies. The overall sound is at once intimate, fragile and slightly ethereal.
It’s a tricky stage, releasing the middle part of a trilogy. It must stand alone, of course – as this album does – but its full context is still incomplete and out of view. It’s a bit like having two slices of bread and some cheese; each is nice enough on their own, but waiting until it makes the full sandwich might be even better.
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