The Morning Set
Artist/Band: Peter Daltrey and Damien Youth
THE MORNING SET
A new Peter Daltrey album is always an exciting event in itself: the expectation of it being another alliance with Louisiana's finest, Damien Youth, whets the appetite further still.
Although this is Daltrey's eleventh solo outing, it's his third with the American folk-psych songsmith - ably assisted by Joe Pesci, Dave 'Fingers' Carver and Peter's son Oli -- and this time under the flag of The Morning Set. Arguably, it's the strongest, conventional Daltrey/Youth set to date; conventional only in the sense that their best work until now, the largely-acoustic "Nevergreen", was more of a thematic piece best enjoyed as a Whole. "The Morning Set" contains ten songs of a startlingly-accessible nature. The phrase 'radio-friendly' springs to mind, but don't let that fool you. As immediate as these songs are, they improve with repeated playing, revealing a greater depth thanks to the dependable union of Peter Daltrey's lyrical- and Damien Youth's melodic-mastery. In Youth, Daltrey has found the ideal creative foil. Much like his Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour compadre Eddy Pumer, both share the same happy knack of pulling that killer hook out of the bag when required. As the promotional strap line has it: "Yer going to be singing these songs forever!"
Daltrey's favoured themes of nostalgia and Americana are very much in evidence again and are given an even greater authenticity thanks to Youth's input. The opener, "Waking up in Ellerslie", all twelve-string guitars, wailing harp and sweet folk-rock optimism, is further enhanced by the presence of another of the Daltrey progeny, daughter Faye, on backing vocal. The filmic "The Hymn of the Singing Man", with its Zimmerman drawl and brooding Link Wray guitar trills, could almost be a sonic sibling of Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" reworked for the Tarantino generation. However, for every darker moment, we're treated to breezier bursts of tune smithery, such as "Wheels of Romance", which bears all the deftness of touch that was Fairfield Parlour's trademark.
Has Peter Daltrey's voice ever sounder better than on "Sleeping with Sylvia Plath"? Maybe not. All the emotion, experience and quiet assuredness of a man now in his fifth decade of this recording lark coalesces in almost seven-minutes of claustrophobic urgency; Oli Daltrey's snaking lead guitar adding to the dark vision. Damien Youth assumes lead vocal duties on two songs: "Phantom Wheels" and "Joe, don't listen to The Man", the latter being one of the album's many highlights, with Youth's Beck-like intonation (that's Hansen and not Jeff, God forbid.) "Blue Girl Eyes" ranks up there too and features some wonderful, chiming guitar work, redolent of Peter Buck in a pre-Warners R.E.M.
"The Ballad of Pilgrim State" is an account of Allen Ginsberg's grim, early family life. Its compelling, but chilling intensity is countered by the positively joyful "Breakfast with Sinatra", which brings the album to a close on a cheerier note Consistently and satisfyingly impressive, and one can't help but look forward already to the next offering by The Morning Set; a prospect even more mouthwatering than the picture of a lovely, greasy fry-up on this album's CD label. Although I hear he could make a mean Eggplant Parmigiana, I'll bet old Frank wouldn't have turned his nose up if he were offered a fried slice to go with it....