Petunia and the Vipers
Inside of You
With a pretty tone to match his pretty name Petunia conjures the ghosts of Porter Wagoner and Lefty Frizzell and takes us on a stroll through the nuanced landscape of American musical storytelling.
Supported by The Vipers, a highly skilled backing band comprised of some of the best Canadian roots rockers the west coast scene has to offer. Veteran musicians such as guitarists Jimmy Roy, Paul Rigby, Steve Nikleva and Paul Pigat are all gifted pickers with a deep knowledge of hillbilly swing and rockabilly twang. Bassist Patrick Metzger and jazz skin man Paul Townsend hold down the bottom end with rigor and enthusiasm while trumpeter JP Carter sprinkles some savory jazz spice over several of these tasty tracks.
Songs like Runaway Freight Train; They Almost Had Me Believing; Primitive Love; Teardrops Rolling and The One Thing dig up the rock n’ roll roots or shimmy along the branches of country swing, which makes them some of the strongest tracks on this recording due to their rockin’ party appeal.
Wonderfully out of place here, Roma violinist Lache Cercel lends his swinging skills to a few lush numbers including the Djangoesque and theatrical Forgotten Melody and the swinging bonus track Ai Mi Madre which Petunia croons in Spanish. Kathleen Nisbet’s sweet harmonies and fiddle skills grace many of the tracks as well including the tango flavored Lucille, the hillbilly murder ballad Gunned Down and the English version of Oh My Mother.
The atmospheric Bicycle Song shows off Petunia’s voice at its most beautiful and the poetic narrative, combined with Jimmy Roy’s inventive lap steel flourishes, actually recreates the free-spirited serenity of a bicycle journey through the countryside.
Some of the more sombre ballads, such as Holy Budge Winters and the title track Inside Of You, can take the mood to places bathed in dark shadows and unintentionally borders on self-parody. But what’s important to keep in mind is that outfits like Petunia and the Vipers possess such a reverential attitude toward the music they love that they present it in a way that transcends musicianship and takes it into the realm of performance art.
Lovingly rendered, well produced and arranged The Vipers forge an earthy foundation under Petunia’s unique vocal range. Definitely a must have for all the country throwbacks out there.
See Petunia’s band, configured as Viper Central, in our Woodshedding feature from the July/August 2013 issue.