[Album Review] Petunia- Free As The Wind
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)


Release Date: June 16, 2015
Label: Independent

I liked ‘Free As The Wind’ as soon as I heard it, but I really fell in love with it one early morning drive across the Southern Alberta prairie. The orange sun was just peeking out over the horizon, setting fire to images of neatly stacked bales of hay. Clouds of steam hovered over the heads of cows as they breathed and chewed. At the end of an impossibly long driveway, a little girl with her dog waved to me as I sped by. It was a magical moment, complete with the ideal soundtrack courtesy of that quirky Canadian balladeer Petunia.

The most striking thing on the record is the yodelling. Yes, that country yodelling, the kind that blows aliens’ heads off in Tim Burton movies. Hokey? You may think so at first, but in Petunia’s hands (or, should I say, in his throat?) this form of singing is treated with profound respect and you come to appreciate it accordingly. Equally, you come to appreciate the various forms of music that he reverently revives, which is first and foremost old school, downhome country (say, pre-1960). But that ain’t all. There are Balkan guitars, swampy blues, ‘50s crooning, ‘60s baroque. There are even a couple of songs that I consider timeless. “Free as the Wind” is in the country-folk vein in only vaguest sense. The singer tones down his vocal style a bit (no less engaging though) as his words are delivered to us like a message on the breeze. The singular and odd “Bloom, Bloom, Bloom”, on the other hand, maybe gives us a glimpse of what it would have been like if country music had invented rap 50 years ago.

‘Free As The Wind‘ will no doubt be dismissed by most as being merely a work of pastiche. This is truly a shame because Petunia performs this music without any trace of a smirk on his face. Not only does he display a true affection for the material but he also clearly holds performers of previous eras in high regard. And yet this is not a case of paying homage to the past. Petunia breathes such vigour and originality into the songs as to dispel any notion of nostalgia. This is simply music of the moment.