Peasant, Shady Retreat

Amanda Petrusich

By Amanda Petrusich

on 06.15.11 in Reviews

Shady Retreat


Peasant is the alias of the singer and songwriter Damien DeRose, a high school dropout with an acoustic guitar, a house crammed full of recording equipment and a penchant for dreamy, apologetic folk songs that evoke the isolated whimsy of Bon Iver. Shady Retreat, Peasant's second studio LP (excepting a home-recorded collection of demos, Fear Not Distant Lover), is melancholy and sweet, a confessional folk record with tiny, swirling hints of psychedelia (see the Brian Wilson-referencing harmonies of opener "Thinking," especially).

Melancholy, confessional folk with tiny hints of psychedelia

Recorded (in part) in a 200-year-old farmhouse, Shady Retreat is a creaky, deliberately lo-fi endeavor: The bits of percussion on "Well Alright" feel rudimentary and tactile, like a hammer slamming into a nail, and DeRose's voice is marked by its evocative crags and crannies. As a lyricist, DeRose is resigned and peaceful, singing about his relationships with self-awareness and humility: "Don't go out into the woods," he cautions on the feathery "Into the Woods," before conceding &#8212 with a strum and a sigh &#8212 "That's all right, I knew you would." Shady Retreat is soft and organic in the manner of all good folk records, but DeRose's sharp sense of melody and aversion to mushy self-reflection make it a fantastically addictive one.