I'm a big Peter Gabriel fan, and I bought his latest, Scratch My Back, last night. In it, he takes a completely different direction than in times past.
I don't mind Peter's change of direction - it's not the first time that he has changed direction completely. (Passion did that for him and changed his music forever and for the brilliant.)
- He's covering songs, not writing his own.
- He uses orchestration and not his usual band.
- He puts a ton of emphasis on his voice.
Joni Mitchell, back in 2005, released Both Sides Now, which revisited her portfolio of songs but with orchestration, and to wonderful effect. The song, Both Sides Now, was utterly reborn. Take that and mix it with the occasional American Idol contestant who takes someone else's song and reworks it for a completely different spin on it. That mashup is this album.
He chose very emotive musicians to work with him on this. Every song (mostly obscure choices) wrings what it can out of the song, both with instruments and voice.
I only have two issues with this release, and they're not small.
Hopefully, this is a phase. Mixed in with his other efforts in the past, something could emerge from this that remakes the music landscape, just as Passion did. But as it is, it's not something that will get a lot of frequency from me.
- It's depressing. It has all the oomph of Arvo Part meets Perry Como.
- Peter's strength in the past is to have such a rich variety across his work. Each song was a surprise. With this album, randomly pick a starting point and you'll not know that you've left the previous song.