As 1/3 of The Outlaw Orchestra, Pete Briley is no stranger to the music scene. Showcasing his broad musical repertoire, this is a musician who loves to write and record. With a wealth of experience across genres, added to a ranging list of musical influences – the music of Pete Briley has widespread appeal and an enthusiasm that is hard to stifle.
“This album has been brewing for many years, but only really started to take shape in the early part of 2023. I hoped to capture something of what’s it like to alive now. The aim was to write songs that speak to the modern condition in an empathetic yet defiant way. We’re all overrated upstarts with ideas above our station and we all feel a little sense of disillusion with the world as it is, so I tried to write songs imbued with that small sense of rebellion, of reclaiming the part of our lives that modernity has stripped from us all.”
“I always have a rule when I make music – I try to do something in each track that I’ve never done before. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be a recording or songwriting technique, a different approach to the song or even just the instrumentation. But I wanted to create a thread of tracks that hung together as a single piece of work but also where each song has it’s own unique fingerprint.”
Kicking things off with the electrified ‘Elvis’ Briley makes his mark in the sand with a frantic sound of live guitar and catchy vocals adding “that he got to feel like Elvis”. The lively chords and solid backbeat take this song to new heights making it a cracking album opener. The rolling ‘Somewhere’ sits in the same vein as Elvis with its big chords and catchy riffing. Pete Briley can’t half right songs with substance that sits like a full on banquet rather than a quick bite to eat that will only sustain you for so long. This album will keep you fed musically for a long time to come.
‘Rhonda’ is a particular highlight and feels like the album has settled down as Briley takes us on a storied journey with a glorious guitar sound and soaring vocals on the chorus. We even get treated by a stinging guitar solo. It sits amongst other great blues/country tracks with female names for titles.
‘Angles Ain’t Singing My Name’ is not just a great title but one hell of a track. Its laid back blues vibe grabs your attention. Briley’s vocals sound really intimate here almost as if he is singing straight into your ears with a slight breathless quality that adds a gravitas to the track. A stumbling synth is added which is just short of perfection.
‘Right Place, Wrong Time Picks’ the pace up with this acoustic led cracker that powers along with great vocal phrasing on the catchy chorus. Something that this album is full of. His use of multiple lead instruments keeps things fresh and interesting. His ability to pick the right one be it banjo or guitar etc is maybe something that will get overlooked compared to his songwriting talent.
‘High Flyer’ demonstrates that as the use of banjo changes things up, and bringing the electrics on the big chorus that’s beefed up by a horn section cements the track within the album. The upbeat and very much not ready for bed track ‘Go To Bed’, is a fizzing electrified track with vibrant guitar playing and an infectious beat that works its way under your skin.
The 70s pop rock inspired ‘Sick And Tired’ is a masterpiece in itself. The rolling chords and Briley’s vocals sound so good on this track together. His falsetto brings an emotive vibe that suits the lyrics of the track, especially on the phrasing of the chorus that just sweeps the track along. The glimmering organ adds a touch of melancholy that is just perfect.
The percussive and lofi quality of ‘Easy’ see Briley reach for the stars with his uplifting vocals on a track that has so much going on. Mixing the picked banjo and slide gives it a true country feel, but the true beauty lies in how easy it is to listen to, that you can easily lose a couple of minutes in between headphones. The lofi home recording continues with the final track ‘Clouds’. A banjo led lullaby where once again Briley’s vocals just work so well with the down-and-out lyrics. It’s as the last few notes sing out that you realise what a special album this is.
There is no denying the songwriting craftmanship that has gone into this album. It’s a collection of wonderfully written tunes that are recorded in an honest and from the heart manner. Briley can take you from the open joys of ‘Elvis’ and ‘High Flyer’ or can leave you low and battered with ‘Sick and Tired’ or ‘Clouds’. Here are songs made by someone who takes songwriting very seriously and has a natural talent to go along with that need to create.
This is an album that will stay with some people for a long time and be a glorious hidden gem for others who will either want to shout out to the world its brilliance or keep it quiet for them to enjoy alone. Either way, once you let this album take hold it will be hard to let go leaving a lasting impression that will be hard to shake off.
Check out the album’s opening track Elvis, below:
Read our interview with Briley here
Purchase the album here