Tag Archives: Vanessa Peters

The Burden of Unshakeable Proof – Q&A with Vanessa Peters

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Official release day for a favourite singer-songwriter Vanessa Peters’ album The Burden of Unshakeable Proof, once again the Dallas based artist has put together a collection of beautiful, thoughtful and melodic songs; recorded by husband Rip Rowan (Old 97s, Rhett Miller) in their home studio, the material for the album and the studio itself were written and built respectively by Vanessa and Rip over a period of around two years, then when work on the studio was completed the pair gathered together friends and tracked twenty five songs in all before carefully selecting ten for album – the songs that made the final cut share a common thread “determination in the face of despair, and the willingness to shed the shackles of the past in order to move forward“.

I asked Vanessa to share some background and insight on the album and this is the result.

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The album title suggests a profound, maybe metaphysical mood? How did you decide on it?

Well, the album title is taken from the first track, All of These Years, that was almost the title, along with 206 Bones. Either would definitely have been a more manageable title.

But The Burden of Unshakeable Proof was more encompassing for me. Both of those other titles, at the end of the day, would have made those songs “title tracks,” and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to assign that weight to either. 

The title is about those truths/proofs that you search for with a certain amount of dread. You know that, upon proving your suspicions or fears to be correct, you’re now going to have to bear the weight of that, of confronting an awful truth. Ignorance is, if not bliss, sometimes easier to deal with. Once something is incontrovertible, you have to accept it and move forward with that new knowledge, and that’s often as heavy a weight to bear as the uncertainty was.

How important to the album was the ‘freedom’ of recording in your own studio?

It was amazing. It’s so nice not to watch the clock. When you pay by the hour or the day, there’s so much pressure to nail every take, and it’s harder to relax (for me at least). It’s also kind of creatively stifling to record on the clock, because you don’t have the financial freedom to say, “hey, let’s try this song as a ballad? What would that arrangement sound like?” You just try to knock it out quickly & efficiently. The flip side of course is that recording can drag on into months while you search for the “perfect” take. But ultimately I loved doing it in our own studio, absolutely.

There’s a vinyl release on the way, a first for a VP album. When putting the album together was this in your minds? Virtually at this point, “side two” feels much more melancholy – was this deliberate?

It actually wasn’t entirely. We weren’t sure until after we’d already agreed a track sequence and had sent the album to mastering (for CD) that we were going to take the risk and do vinyl. But we had always kept the album length in the back of our minds, knowing that more than 10 songs wouldn’t really be great for vinyl. I think my albums tend to be sequenced with the top half being a little “lighter” anyway, so it just worked out nicely, but yeah, this album absolutely has a clear A and B and I love that.

Rip actually wanted, at one point, to do 4 EPs, because the songs seem to divide themselves nicely into 5-song groupings.

Like that Seinfeld episode, where they are trying to sell muffin tops… Everybody knows the muffin top is the best part… We wanted to make, instead of a double album, 4 album tops.

But ultimately we decided to break up the massive bunch of songs we had started on – we tracked 27 – and concentrate on this 10-song batch.

Paralysis Bug is an interesting song that deals with those physical lows that affect all of us at one time or another, do you have a favourite album or track that always lifts your spirit or reignites the muse?

Great question! I have been turning to Hello Saferide more and more over the last few years; her last two albums have such a delightful pop mentality to them that I sometimes forget how sad the lyrics are. Same thing with The Weepies – their album “Hideaway” is excellent, and something I can always put on and sing along to.

The songs Delicate and Mending Fences deal with feelings of being overwhelmed by modern-day life pressures, given your relationship with Italy where would you recommend staying to escape the stress of the 21st century?

I’m afraid there is nowhere to hide. 🙂 I do feel like Italians to an amazing job of dealing with stress. Their economy is in the tank, they are struggling mightily with so many issues right now, and yet they never fail to stop and appreciate simple things like a good meal with family or friends. Their way of life, while maybe more frenetic than it was a century ago, is still light-years more centered and calm than ours is in the US.

What are your recording and touring plans for the reminder of 2016?

Not sure yet. We have some shows planned in the US (mostly Texas) for March and May, and we are supposed to do a fairly extensive tour in Italy in July/August.

I’d love to get back to the UK but need to find a new booking agency. Any takers out there? 🙂 Seriously though, the last time I played the UK was 2009 – far too long!

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The Burden of Unshakeable Proof digital release CD and vinyl are available now via Bandcamp

BEST OF 2015 – SINGER-SONGWRITER, FOLK, COUNTRY & AMERICANA #25 to #6

25   Daniel Romano – If I’ve Only One Time Askin’

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Daniel Romano / Facebook / Twitter

24   John Moreland – High on Tulsa Heat

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John Moreland / Facebook / Twitter

23   Joey Kneiser – The Wildness

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Joey Kneiser / Facebook / Twitter

22   Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete

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Dave Rawlings Machine / Facebook / Twitter

21   Michael Rank & Stag – Horsehair

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Michael Rank & Stag / Facebook / Twitter

20   The Barker Band – The Land We Hold Dear

The Barker Band / Facebook / Twitter

19   The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

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The Decemberists / Facebook / Twitter

18   The Unthanks – Mount The Air

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The Unthanks / Facebook / Twitter

17    M Lockwood Porter – 27

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Website / Facebook / Twitter

16   Eilen Jewell – Sundown Over Ghost Town

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Eilen Jewell / Facebook / Twitter

15   Vanessa Peters – with the Sentimentals

Vanessa Peters - 'With The Sentimentals' - cover (300dpi)

Vanessa Peters / Facebook / Twitter

14   Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville

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Lindi Ortega / Facebook / Twitter

13   Kristin Diable – Create Your Own Mythology

Kristin Diable / Facebook / Twitter

12   Emily Barker – The Toerag Sessions

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Emily Barker / Facebook / Twitter

11   Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou – Expatriot 

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Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou / Facebook / Twitter

10   Frankie Lee – American Dreamer
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Frankie Lee / Facebook / Twitter

9   Lucero – All A Man Should Do

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Lucero / Facebook / Twitter

8   Kathryn Williams – Hypoxia 

Kathryn Williams / Facebook / Twitter

7   Lilly Hiatt – Royal Blue

Lilly Hiatt / Facebook / Twitter

6   American Aquarium – Wolves 

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American Aquarium / Facebook / Twitter

Vanessa Peters – Fan Club

Vanessa Peters

Perusers of Beat Surrenders will (I hope) have stumbled across the name Vanessa Peters a few times, now maybe you were tempted to buy a CD or a download, maybe you’d made a note to follow-up but never got around to it, well now’s you’re chance to get Vanessa’s entire back catalogue for $20, and what’s more by signing up to her fan club you get a whole host of bonus content. Those of you of a certain age may recall writing a note and posting it with a post-office money order for a few pounds to join your favourite bands fan-club, then waiting patiently for a fanzine to arrive, maybe it was a flex-disc or an exclusive signed photo – apologies for dragging you down my memory lane there – back to the future and the point of this post, this is how Vanessa’s fan club works:

You click here, which will take you over to Bandcamp where you can subscribe for an annual fee, in exchange you get Vanessa’s entire back catalog digitally, plus all sorts of exclusives, videos, perks, and new music ahead of the formal release – at all subscription levels you get access to unreleased demos, subscriber-only bonus songs, all future albums via Bandcamp as long as you are a subscriber and a postcard on your birthday – and you get that warm fuzzy feeling that you are directly supporting Vanessa in her creative endeavour all for $20 dollars – or more if you like.

In the last ten years, Vanessa has played over 1000 shows in 11 countries, receiving accolades from abroad and in her hometown of Dallas, where she was recently nominated as “Best Folk Artist” by The Dallas Observer. She continues to tour the US and in Europe, where she has a strong fan base thanks to the albums she made with her former Italian band, Ice Cream on Mondays, and the hundreds of shows she has played in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark. In early 2015 she released her 10th album, the Americana-tinged “With The Sentimentals,” and is back in the studio working on another album of new material.

Hitch a ride now.

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Vanessa Peters / Facebook / Twitter

Vanessa Peters – With The Sentimentals

Vanessa Peters - 'With The Sentimentals' - cover (300dpi)

Over the last twelve years Vanessa Peters has played more than a thousand shows in the US and across Europe, the Dallas based singer-songwriter releases today (May the 11th) a new collaborative album, With The Sentimentals, that was recorded  in tour time-outs during April & October of last year.

The ten-track release includes nine original songs from Vanessa and kicks off with a cover of Hem’s Pacific Street which along with all of the songs on the album was recorded  ‘live’ by  Vanessa together with husband and bandmate / producer Rip Rowan and The Sentimentals a Copenhagen based Americana band featuring  M.C. Hansen (guitars), Nikolaj Wolf (upright bass) and Jacob Chano (drums).

Vanessa Peters & The Sentimentals (2)

The Sentimentals have collaborated with Vanessa previously playing together on two trips to Denmark and one back in Vanessa’s home state of Texas though this is the first time they’ve got together to record, the album was created from two sessions that took place in studios located in the Danish countryside and without the need for overdubs:

“The Sentimentals are a really fluid, organic band, and they work well like that – they like to do two, three takes of a song, and then move on and that gave the album this lovely, cozy, laid-back feel,” explains Vanessa.

Three of tracks are re-workings of songs from Vanessa’s excellent back catalogue (previously on Beat Surrender) and the prolific songwriter is already working on new material for an album tentatively slated for release this towards the end of this year.

The plaintive opening cover track fits well with Vanessa’s songwriting style and vocal, the piano of the Hem original replaced by guitar with the result sounding a little more uplifting and reminiscent of Fields of Gold, the first of the new tracks Call You All The Time continues with the melancholy through the lyrics but juxtaposed against a livelier country shuffle back-beat, the first of the three re-worked tracks is next up, Big Time Underground which originally appeared on the 2006 album Little Films (recorded with Ice Cream on Mondays) along with Fireworks which also appears later on this release, in both cases the ‘new’ arrangements are stronger and suit the songs better, the remaining re-worked track is Afford To Pretend which was originally recorded for the 2006 EP, The Blackout.  

The album has a dynamic borne from the two separate recording sessions and the old v new material but maintains a sense of fluidity too – the songs are trademark Vanessa Peters, melodic, thoughtful and heartfelt and this latest album can only win her music more fans.

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Vanessa Peters / Facebook / Twitter

M.C. Hansen – 3

3 is both an ambitious and interesting musical project from Danish M.C. Hansen triple CD album offers different versions of the same songs;

From Part One

M.C. Hansen 3 (Part One, Dallas, TX) – They Got That From Me

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Pleasantry Lane Studio in Dallas, Texas by Rip Rowan with Milo Deering on pedal steel guitar, mandolin, dobro and fiddle. Vanessa Peters and Paul Averitt backing vocals and Rip Rowan on percussion, keyboards and piano.

From Part Two

M.C. Hansen 3 (Part Two, Fredericia, DK) They Got That From Me

With Hansen’s Danish band, recorded at Det Bruunske Pakhus in Fredericia, Denmark by Kaspar Vorbech. Jacob Chano plays the drums, Morten Brauner bass, Uffe Steen clarinet and electric guitar. Søren Henner mixed the album at Flueknepperiet in Copenhagen.

From Part Three

M.C. Hansen 3 (Part Three, Island Of Møn, DK) They Got That From Me

Recorded at the Real Farm Studio by Rip Rowan with Nikolaj Busk on piano, accordion and glockenspiel, Aske Jacoby electric and acoustic guitar. Nikolaj Wolf mixed the album and added some bass at Ulvetoner in Copenhagen.

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