Happy Growl 2021
Strutting to the rhythm of her writing, American chanteuse soundtracks the times of cholera with messages of hope.
The pandemic period presented us with a mindspace for pondering yet while most people were plagued with sadness, Peggy James plugged the gaps in her performance schedule searching for panache, and this album is the result of the songstress’ quest. In order to shape the record, she went for something old, something new, something merry and something blue, marrying fresh tracks to ones issued on previous platters and given a different shine here, but delving deeper than the tellingly titled "Paint Still Wet" from 2020. It actually makes a lot of sense for the Milwaukeean artiste to look back and reassess her personality and see how to see how lifelong habits fit into the world’s current state of affairs.
That’s why she opts for introspective trips on the unhurried likes of “Best In Me” and opener “I Go With Me” whose lush Americana arrangements, where violins stream vitality, betray Peggy’s satisfaction with her findings, the pieces’ quiet triumph turning into irresistible girl-group pop on the groovy “Thousand Reasons” and into marching swagger on the album’s titular finale. However, where “Willow” has a vaudevillian élan to its slider-kissed stroll, and the virus-referencing “Hard Times” a playful twang, “Guardian Angel” leads trad country to electric horizon, James vigorous vocals cutting through the thunderous drums, and the chugging “So Subtle” comes on quite arrestingly.
And then there’s an update of “Joan Of Arc” locating folk sensitivity and eventually grasping the feeling with much grace and immense warmth, before the magnificently cosmic “Indoor Cat” fathoms the chamber potential of Peggy’s writing and delivery, and “Crossroad Moment” wraps the “carpe diem” principle in silky guitars. The outcome may not seem sublime but, with pandemic raining on them or not, the songs of “The Parade” should get there in the end.