Peter Sean Maloney is a solo act based out of Los Angeles but he harnesses a lot of musical influence from traditional Celtic culture. He has an interesting collection of moods and aesthetics. He likes to delve into post punk and goth tones that go perfectly with the subject matter that he has fixated on which is the end of a relationship. So I suppose that makes this a breakup album, and I notoriously LOVE a good breakup album. I'm all for the misery, the combing through one's sorrow and taking your listeners with you. I have yet to experience a breakup album with a Celtic twist to it so that's definitely a first.
Maloney uses a cozy lineup of instruments that contribute to the acoustic nature of the album. There's guitar, mandolin, and even a traditional Irish bouzouki. Lock and loaded with all these instruments, Maloney weaves a winding journey with all these strings at his disposal. As far as his guitar work is concerned he is not afraid to experiment. He'll do a little finger picking where he happens to be very talented. He'll mess with the tuning to get more diverse sounds and all of these efforts did not go unnoticed. I appreciate his craftsmanship because it helped keep the music fresh.
Merrow Music is a concept album engineered specifically for vinyl. There is a side A, which features some pretty dark themes including murder and the inner working of twisted minds, however it sort of finds a light at the end. Side B is where the Celtic influence really shines. I was not given a vinyl version so I'll have to make due with what I was given, which was a digital rendition. I'll be honest, I could see this sounding great on vinyl, and I understand the appeal to want to engineer for that sounds, but it does put me and probably a few others at a disadvantage in terms of experiencing the music as intended.
I traditionally love a breakup album because I enjoy an honest and deep dive into misery and Maloney certainly delivers that. It's more than just a "light out" kind of darkness. It's incredibly heavy, and only at a few rare moments is there a counter weight to it. To be honest this is much more than just one subject matter. There was a lot to unpack in this album, maybe a bit too much. I feel like there could have been as many as three different albums tucked into this one. I had trouble connecting to the album at times because I struggled to find a thread in the music that pulled it all together other than that heavy darkness. I think spreading out the ratio between dark and light could have been good. You can keep your cold and damp core and still find light to guide the way.
I could never deny Maloney's passion and conviction to what he wanted to do with Merrow Music. This album may not have always rang my bell, but that certainly doesn't make it unworthy of listening to. I think if you want to hear legitimately solid acoustic guitar and cool Celtic touches you should look into this album.
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