Bound for Glory
Damien DeRose, the 25-year-old at the heart of the indie trio Peasant, started making music as a teenager living in small-town Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He produced his first three albums—Fear Not Distant Lover, On the Ground, and Shady Retreat—largely on his own before bringing in bassist Bruno Joseph and drummer Alex Bortnichak for a more robust sound on the just-released Bound for Glory.
DeRose's delicate acoustic songs have earned him frequent comparisons to the likes of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, but he's tried to distinguish himself from the continuous stream of indie-folk types. He told Paste he chose the Peasant moniker in an attempt to escape the ubiquitous "singer-songwriter" label, hoping that a more distinctive name would help him define his work as part of an ongoing artistic project. The name itself, he said, came from the famous line in John Lennon's "Working Class Hero"—"But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see"—a choice he thinks makes a subtle statement about inequality in America while simultaneously conveying the band's simple aesthetic.
So does Peasant succeed in standing out from the pack? It depends: the band's music occasionally borders on the forgettably twee, as on the cloying "A Little One," while a couple of songs, like "Gone Far Lost" and "Mother Mary," cross the line from sleepy charm to soporific lull. Other songs are captivating despite modest ambitions: "Amends" is slight, but DeRoses's lilting vocals, in tandem with effervescent guitars, give it a quiet charm; likewise for the quavering vocals and sprightly cadence of "Take It Light."