Review: An Ever Darkening Sky – Roy Peak
You may know Roy as our go-to music reviewer here at Sacred Chickens, but his music also provides many a work day soundtrack for me. I first got to know Roy’s music when I reviewed his first Album, All is Well. That album is still on my playlist, with its dark/light, sharply funny and straightforward emotions funneled through Roy’s gravelly voice and punk/folk fusion. So, I was excited about the new album and a little nervous about whether it would live up to my expectations.
I find I really love this album too, but in a different way. Nothing Roy does could ever be described at too mellow, but this country/folk blend strikes me as more at peace with the dissonance of life. As though, the singer has relaxed into the disappointments and absurdities of life and found beauty on the way down, like Alice opening cupboards on her strangely slow descent through the rabbit hole.
The songs on this album aren’t afraid to take their time and poke into whatever they can find under the ever-darkening sky. The last song, Not Enough Mermaids is a case in point. It’s unafraid to explore bending sounds that feel wet as the ocean, brushing warm against guitar strings, the pace is slow but forward moving.
Roy’s sense of humor is still at play in songs like Miss Ohio, who “wants to do right but not right now.” I feel for you Miss Ohio. I know just what you mean. My favorites are always the songs that read like stories, on this album right now that song is Sylvia, which paints a picture of love in the apocalypse, whether that's a real or metaphorical end of the world.
In fact, one of the things I love about Roy’s music is the narrative quality. Although, as a writer, I have a tendency to concentrate on lyrics, I find that Roy uses the music not only to provide the mood, but to help tell the story. In the title song, An Ever Darkening Sky, the clean, lithe opening pushes forward, but halts in short silent spaces, adding musical suspense. Every space makes you hope for a little more. The singer asks whether the rain will wash the pain away and the music adds momentum and promise of a dim hope somewhere ahead.
I really recommend this album, although I will warn you. I’ve woken up for the past week or so with Sylvia stuck in my head. But I think that’s a risk worth taking.
Roy Peak has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others.