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Album Review

Vinny Peculiar
Down the Bright Stream

Article written by Mary B - Feb 2, 2015

I knew that ‘Down The Bright Stream’ was coming my music way. While waiting I pacified myself with Vinny’s prior release to it, ‘The Root Mull Affect: A Retrospective’. ‘The Root Mull’ is like a reminder of Peculiar’s rich music past and it made me worry about his future music releases. Could anything that Peculiar went on to create be anywhere near as good as what his back catalogue displays?

The album title is named after a book that VP used to get read to him at school so you know that there is going to be an element of nostalgia in the mix. There is so much more to this album than returning to happy memories though.

The opening track, ‘English Village’, is a triumph. The gentle guitar strumming eases us into the typical witty and observant lyrics that come so easy to Mr Peculiar. Words are painted, not written. Every line is so vivid that you can see the scenes that he is describing before your very eyes. Subject matter is vast covering everything from Top of the Pops to decaying cemeteries where loved ones lie in rest. Vinny covers in one song what many artists cannot achieve in a whole album.

‘Catalogue Trousers’ follows the opening track and it is a joy to listen to as the days gone by of catalogue purchasing are explored. Only Peculiar could give clothing importance! Nearly every line is embedded in the history of his slacks.
“I wore them when I first appeared on stage At the Methodist Youth Hall in Golden Cross Lane”. The music arrangement is moving as Peculiar’s vocals dip in and out of singing and citing lyrics. He moves from singer to poet in an effortless fashion.

‘I Only Stole What I Needed’ is Vinny listing everyday items that have not been paid for. The line, “I only stole what I needed” weaves its way in and out of the stolen items. It is a simple idea yet the delivery makes it all seem so poignant especially when Peculiar says, “I count my blessings at the end of every day”. It almost hurts the heart when you assess it. It is social commentary that Dickens would be impressed by.

One of my favourite tracks (though they’re all my favourite really) is ‘Egocentric Man’: “I spend my days coveting my muse inventing situations sharing other peoples news”. The lyrics in this song and the flow of them are superb.

‘Girl At The Bar’ is such a sad song. The guitars almost cry as Peculiar once again taps into the human psyche and how we interact with each other, the embarrassments and the regrets this life throws at us as we catch our last train home.

There is a song about the British sculptor, ‘Anthony Gormley’ (responsible for the Angel of the North). It is rude and delicious and an exaggerated look at the male genitals. I love it and it is a welcome break from some of the melancholy moments on here. The track that follows it is a surprise song about Michael Jackson. ‘The King of Pop is Dead’ documents everything from the change in Jackson’s music style to that Jarvis incident and suggests that “We killed him”.

The penultimate song, ‘The saddest song of Samuel S’ is the saddest song on the album. “And there’s a time to remember and a time to forget. A time to shut up and a time to confess”. It’s a moving affair about the effects that a first love leaves on a person and how the wanting never quite leaves you. At one point in the song it is almost like Peculiar is going to choke on the words as he tries to say them. Then the music seems to blend in perfectly to introduce the last song, ‘The Doo Kum Inn’. The music is haunting and seems to demand a more dramatic subject matter but it is just about a boutique and its demise. The music arrangement is both beautiful and sad. It reflects my mood as the album come to a close. I do not want it to end.

This album was recorded in various places including Vinny’s home studio. Many talented people contributed to it including Jah Wobble and ex Parlour Flames members. It is released on 30 March and I cannot recommend enough that you allow it into your life. It is also available to stream now on Vinny’s website.

If you have a moment, take a look at Peculiar’s discography. It is an impressive body of work displaying some of the finest songwriting ever to grace music in my opinion. Just when you think that the ink must run dry and the thoughts run out, he delivers an album that you can return to again and again.

Mr Peculiar, I have no idea how you keep creating but please continue to do so. Like streams are important as conduits in the water cycle, Peculiar is a necessary figure on the musical landscape.


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