Something Else! sneak peek: Peter Himmelman – The Boat That Carries Us (2014)

Peter Himmelman is an artist who seemingly is able to shift from strength to strength. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter is an accomplished painter/artist, a talented motivational speaker and, of course, an excellent guitarist.

From 1986’s This Father’s Day to the Are You There project with his band Minnesota in 2013, Himmelman has proven you can be clever without relying on rock ‘n’ roll cliques. Additionally, anyone who’s been to a Himmelman show can testify that they are a thing of legend. No two appearances are alike and all of them take the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions.

Himmelman has recently concluded a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming release The Boat That Carries Us. On the new project, Himmelman sticks with his effective and well-executed folk/rock formula. However, he brings in a few big sticks. The project was recorded with Jim Keltner on drums and Lee Sklar on bass; guitarist David Steele and keyboardist Will Gramling also appear. Additionally Himmelman, though a capable producer in his own right, turns those duties over to Sheldon Gomberg.

The results are predictable, but that’s not a bad thing: A great band playing a great batch of songs. In the end, The Boat That Carries Us ranks up near the top in Himmelman’s career.

“Green Mexican Dreams” subtly tells the story of tragic road trip. The song is a vivid as a Technicolor movie. Himmelman’s acoustic guitar meshes with Steele’s guitar, Sklar’s steady hands on the bass and Keltner’s restrained and evocative drumming — creating something amazingly effective. “Mercy On A Desolate Road” works like a prayer, with Himmelman looking into our souls. Yet he’s able to request forgiveness in a way we only wish we could. “In The Hour Of Ebbying Light” chugs along like a Traveling Wilburys track, and is just as clever. The Boat That Carries Us concludes with “Hotter Brighter,” an evocative and lovely tale which demands repeated listening.

These songs seem challenging yet Himmelman and Co. play with the restraint and grace expected of such luminaries. Clearly, they had fun making the music and playing such strong material. Listeners will be equally challenged and inspired.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Chicago. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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