Review Summary: Some great vocals and acoustic guitar picking, but much more than just another singer/songwriter.
Usually, the first reaction a listener can have when hearing the term that the music on an album or EP falls within the singer/songwriter genre is a slow picked or strummed acoustic guitar, maybe a genre piano melody and a female or male singer going through a ballad or set of mid-tempo numbers that can be either interesting and very enjoyable, but often something that turns into aural wallpaper, or even more so, becomes tedious after a few songs.
That is why, after listening to _Spirits_, the debut EP by Mark Peters, a Londoner who now resides in Vienna, Austria, it would be a bit tough to stick the singer/songwriter tag on Peters. Ok, he mostly plays an acoustic guitar and has a ballad-sounding song here and there. But, it is usually an emotional trick Peters plays on his listeners - of the six songs here, quite a few of them (“Move Me, “Chinese Torture” and the title song) start off slow and almost brooding, with some excellent guitar picking from Peters and gentle vocals. Then, Peters suddenly turns the tables and comes in with a big pop/rock chorus akin to say Coldplay (not a diss) and gives his music a welcome variation the singer/songwriter material usually needs. In that respect, the closer “Spirits” is particularly impressive with its acoustic/electric guitar interplay.
Besides having a distinctive singing voice, Peters’ acoustic guitar picking is particularly noteworthy, where the opener “Memories” and “24 Years” bring in visions of exceptional guitar players like Leo Kottke, with some exquisite jazzy chops, particularly on “Memories”. Peters obviously pays a lot of attention to the construction of his songs, he says he actually began writing the title song some 15 years ago while he was still at university.
Peters is obviously not a one trick pony, as he is able to combine a number of musical elements making the melodic transitions sound smooth and enjoyable, with the title song and “24 Years” exceeding in that respect. In some ways, his folky pop/rock combination brings in also shades of Ben Harper and Fiona Regan.
While Peters’ pop/rock leanings might put some listeners off, particularly with the mention of Coldplay in the mix, he has actually come up with some quite enjoyable stuff on his debut, with a promise that he can only get better.