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Pete Lawrie – A Little Brighter

Pete Lawrie, A Little Brighter

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PETE Lawrie’s debut album A Little Brighter seems to have been heading our way for ages now… thanks to several EPs and singles, all of which promised much from the album.

Now that it’s finally arrived, the good news is that Lawrie does not disappoint. Like its name suggests, this is the sort of LP that brightens your day and makes the world seem like a better place… and that’s in spite of some poignant moments along the way!

For Lawrie, it marks the culmination of a long journey and one that began from an early age… as he always felt certain he would have a musical career and echo his parents passion for it.

Indeed, the catch line “born on Penny Lane, bred in Penarth” has attached itself to Lawrie ever since, given that he was indeed born in Liverpool, where his musician-parents both played the oboe in the Liverpool Philharmonic, before moving to Wales.

Over those years, he honed his musical tastes, having had an eclectic upbringing, and then set about forging his own path as a singer-songwriter troubadour of genuine worth.

A Little Brighter therefore displays all the qualities of a musician who has been informed and influenced by the best – it’s rife with classic values, boasts a timeless quality and yet it sounds fresh and immediate.

The songs are of a very high quality, whether you’ve previously heard them as releases or not.

Album opener In The End sets the standard, opening with a beautiful (even cinematic) string arrangement, before dropping an acoustic guitar lick and coming over all warm and folksy. Lawrie’s husky vocals are extremely endearing, the background harmonies work a treat, while the melodic chorus is instantly catchy.

All That We Keep, which Lawrie admits to being one of the most lyrically proud of, is a poignant yet somehow optimistic tale of death that quickly underlines the brilliance of Lawrie’s thought-provoking lyrics. The chorus, again, resonates with warmth and catchy qualities.

How Could I Complain? finds Lawrie at his most rock ‘n’ roll, dropping a rousing percussion element and a gruff backing vocal that sounds every bit as if it could have been conceived mid-hangover (it was). It’s a no-nonsense foot-stomper that is immense fun, complete with brilliant layering and astute observations such as “you wouldn’t know joy if you didn’t have pain”.

The pace slows down once more for the soulful Half As Good, written for a close friend, before he tips his hat to Motown on Fell into The River, another rousing number that even draws on some gospel elements.

There’s a dusky quality to the slow-burning Poor Man’s Game, a love song of sorts that acknowledges the mundane, while subtle but lovely piano arrangements dominate the wonderfully nostalgic Paperthin, which finds Lawrie reflecting on one of the best times of his life (living in squalor!).

The quality is maintained throughout, though, so it’s hardly surprising to write that the remaining songs similarly enchant and impress… with If Not For You offering a breezy, rose-tinted view of Wales, the bittersweet Just Dust providing an album highlight on a relationship that never gets off the ground, and Jimmy And The Birds On Fire drawing the album to a thought-provoking close amid a heart-breaking chronicle of the end of a friendship.

Some may lament the decision to end the LP on a down note, but once you hear it and consider what it has to say it’s a near-perfect finish.

Thanks Pete Lawrie, the lengthy wait was most definitely worth it!

Download picks: In The End, How Could I Complain, Just Dust, If Not For You, Paperthin, Jimmy And The Birds on Fire

Track listing:

  1. In The End
  2. All That We Keep
  3. How Could I Complain?
  4. Half As Good
  5. Fell Into The River
  6. Poor Man’s Game
  7. Paperthin
  8. If Not For You
  9. Just Dust
  10. Dance On Your Own
  11. Jimmy And The Birds on Fire