The third full-length album by Peter Joseph Burtt and The Kingtide reaches a new territory of style within the King Beach songwriter’s distinctive soulfulness. “Morphic Euphoric” was locally recorded by John Riley at Steel Tree Studio with a familiar cast of area musicians.
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Sam Ravenna’s bass hits fat, smooth and precise on stripped-down opening track, “Get Down Rodney.” Burtt explores loss and love, the still-fresh emotions absolutely dripping from his sandpaper voice.
Although Peter Joseph Burtt has always been known for his laid-back approach, this album reaches a new level of depth and chill surpassing both 2013’s “Bone to Stone” and 2016’s “Mermaid’s Curse.”
“Lazarus” returns quickly to Burtt’s upbeat, danceable world-music roots with Zebuel Early’s lilting guitar interlacing easily amidst the polyrhythmic drumming of Mike Adamo. It also continues the theme of change and rebirth permeating the record.
“Can’t Kill a Weed” possesses a deep-roots reggae beat and militant message reminiscent of Bob Marley’s “Survival,” circa 1979, perhaps serving as a tip of the hat to Burtt’s steadfast recovery from heart surgery in 2015.
“Hello Stranger” takes us even farther back in time to the slowed-down ska vibe of a 1960s Kingston corner shop. Although Burtt has always been known for his laid-back approach, this album reaches a new level of depth and chill surpassing both 2013’s “Bone to Stone” and 2016’s “Mermaid’s Curse.” It’s almost as if the singer has given up to the mysteriously haunting inspiration that moves him. There is an honesty pervading the lyrics, which hooks the listener and never really lets go.
The longest track on the album clocking in at more than 8 minutes, “Orphan Boy” features Todd Holway’s keyboards weaving about a deep, unhurried sonic feeling. As his voice cracks and bends over revealing lyrics referencing the artist’s innermost fears, joys, insecurities and heartbreak, I can’t help but think again that this is Burtt’s most powerfully introspective work in years.
“Where the Rivers Meet” is a bluesy track recalling the brown, muddy delta where diverse styles of music congregated in early America. In fact, Burtt is a lifelong musician who draws from the Earth itself to inform his sound. He was completing a Master of Arts degree in San Francisco in creative writing and African drum and folklore when he began looking to cultures that maintain oral histories between rhythm and the spoken word. On discovering the harmonious poetry of the Shona people, he travelled first to Zimbabwe, then Ghana and Gambia, lingering in each place, living and studying within a society of traditional musicians. Much of his music is played on traditional West African instruments, notably the harp-like kora and the mbira or thumb piano.
“The Blue and the Green” returns to reggae roots with Ravenna’s strong, melodic bass pushing a song about the meaning of life’s creation while “Soldier of Fortune” drives heart beats around the ascending and descending scales of the magical kora. Burtt’s live show is as captivating as it is soulful; he is a rare talent whose inimitable approach to contemporary music is impossible to forget.
“Soul Lover” opens up a free, loose air between Burtt’s weathered vocals and The Kingtide’s ultra-natural groove. The music is real, earthy and grounded, yet at the same time uplifting, inspiring and energetic. It’s a combination that comes off as effortless because of its truthfulness. As much as we try to stay the same, things always change. By life’s grace, we lose love, meet someone new, morph and transform into the unrecognizable and euphoric, “unending, not pending, impending …” Needless to say, the band sounds absolutely perfect as it draws out the jam into a soaring, free exploration of Burtt’s sundry influences.
Album closer “Put It to Use” is jazzy fusion reminiscent of Miles Davis 1970 “Bitches Brew.” Forty-five minutes into Burtt’s soul expression, I’m enchanted. Like a melodious North Star, when the muse calls, Burtt responds. And as the sound fades out, it’s clear he’s created some of the realest original music to come out of Lake Tahoe — ever. | crystalbaycasino.com