Peter Himmelman - Imperfect World

Peter Himmelman
Imperfect World


First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4

Written by John Metzger


Peter Himmelman likely never will evade the many comparisons to Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, or his father-in-law Bob Dylan that have dogged him throughout his career. After spending much of the past decade doing everything from crafting children’s albums to working with Nine Inch Nails’ drummer Chris Vrenna in an attempt to break loose from his routine, he returns full-force to embracing his classicist influences on his 10th solo outing Imperfect World. In fact, throughout the album, he never ventures far from his holy trinity of heroes. Surrounding himself with an all-star crew of session musicians — including bass player Sheldon Gomberg (Beck, Rickie Lee Jones), organist Jeff Young (Jackson Browne, Sting), and Costello’s longtime drummer Pete Thomas — Himmelman rambles through 11 songs in 40 minutes, fusing Tom Petty with B.B. King on This Afternoon in the Rain; underscoring the Traveling Wilburys-ish chug of Wet Matches with a jangly, Byrds-ian guitar accompaniment; and invoking just a touch of Alejandro Escovedo’s punk-ish snarl on the opening, blues-inflected Loaves of Bread. Granted, this isn’t a terribly original avenue to pursue, but it is a tried-and-true formula that seems perfectly suited for his pensive musings.

Indeed, it’s Himmelman’s strength as a lyricist that tends to lift his material above the fare of the average songwriter, and the thematic flow of Imperfect World provides him the kind of focus that makes it his best, most cohesive outing in some time. Influenced heavily by the death of his younger sister who recently died in a tragic car crash, the collection offers reflections upon life and death as glimpsed from the eyes of a man who is trying to come to terms with both his loss and his religion. Himmelman’s songs consistently have been grounded by his Jewish faith, but Imperfect World surrounds his spiritual leanings with pain, anger, and sorrow, making its deeply personal sentiments resonate all the more. By the time he strolls through the quietly soulful strains of Another Day, he finds the strength to accept his life for what it is, even though he knows in his heart that things won’t ever be the same. starstarstar ˝

<b>Imperfect World is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box