Faint Peter – Redoubt
by Joseph Dussault (Journalism), published March 7th 2016
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
With a strong sense of narrative and constant guitar plucking, Joseph De Natale appears to position himself as an emissary of folk conventions – at least at first. But this Boston-bred, Seattle-based songwriter is no purist. Under the pseudonym Faint Peter, De Natale genre-bends his way through his compositions, dramatic and personal in equal measure.
On Redoubt, Faint Peter’s cinematic debut, otherwise sparse instrumentation is filled out by big-room reverb and subtle touches of slide guitar, trumpet, and Rhodes piano. The record is an intimate experience thanks to tasteful arrangement and squeaky-clean production, but it’s De Natale’s voice, which dips into odd timbres in otherwise pitch-perfect runs, that gives the record most of its character. It’s a rare artist that can evoke the placid harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel and then, in the space between chord changes, transition to haunting, Buckley-esque wails.
De Natale doesn’t shy away from pop sensibilities. He’s mostly in the business of toe-dipping, but occasionally he wades knee-deep into folk-pop. “The Cure” would sound just as good sandwiched between The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men on your mom’s favorite Spotify playlist – to be fair, she has pretty good taste.
That’s not a dig at De Natale, though – it’s just that his ventures in ambiance and myth are so much more compelling. Redoubt is full of vivid, albeit ambiguous, storytelling. In “Texas,” De Natale presents something of a Western pastiche; a journey towards love and fulfilment, ever-southward and probably futile. Meanwhile, the stone reservoir described in “The Well” seems to assume both setting and character all at once.
In many ways, Faint Peter channels the spirits of De Natale’s two distant homes. Sanguine West Coast wisdom. That pastoral, if nihilistic, New England soul. Perhaps that’s why his stories, which often take place in between those coastal bookends, are so charming.
Recommended Tracks: “The Well,” “Waiting,” “Dear”
Redoubt can be purchased and streamed on Bandcamp.