After several years of working with other musicians, singer/songwriter Mister Peculiar released his first solo album, I Should Follow Steve’s Thought, in 2011. Deciding that he wanted to continue composing his own material, its sequel EP, Informal Session, pt. 1 followed in 2012. The London based artist is a firm believer that music should not only be good, it should also tell stories.

To that end, he has put together a rock opera called Changes. It tells the tale of a young man who emigrates in an attempt to escape the monotony of his existence, but finds that a change in scenery isn’t enough to reinvigorate himself. Instead, he comes to the realisation that to rediscover a passion for life, he will have to explore his inner most self and purge the demons from his mind.

The narrative begins with “Wrong Place” as a cool acoustic riff sets an introspective tone by blending elements of folk and electro-pop ahead of a soft harmony. It’s a curious and quirky opening number that acts as an awakening to the dullness of the main character’s situation. “The Prisoner” transitions smoothly out of its end, starting off with subtle instrumentation and hushed vocals. A slow and cutting riff sets in, burning a path through relaxed percussion and piano keys. This light and lackadaisical affair rests easy on the ears before fading into “Lowlands”.

From here, the sound of a storm prefaces some poignant piano work which is soon joined by an airy guitar and a spoken word narration. It plays out like an inner monologue between blasts of bracing instrumentation as the protagonist seems to be justifying his decision to leave home. Afterwards, the jazzy riff of “Expectations” combines with elements of blues to forge a characterful sound. Remaining busy and boisterous all the way through, it adopts a rather tongue-in-cheek attitude as it trucks tranquilly forward.

Foot steps and a closing door start “Silence” on an ominous fade in to a bass line that barely registers between sporadic but rather resonate vocal volleys. The track lives up to its name as it ends up being extremely hushed until some abrasive percussion slams into the air at the end. “Old Place” follows as another restrained and cutting composition full of penetrating guitars and a progressive harmony. It exhibits more of a classic rock ballad trait as it develops.

The steady instrumental introduction of “Talking to the Moon” is met by a melody that is initially distorted, but eventually erupts to the forefront for the chorus. A loud and lively guitar solo shows off some accomplished skills as it approaches its mid-section. “No More Light” succeeds it as a mellow and moving musical interlude that features an emotional climax. This is before “Dreaming” takes off silently, staying quiet and contemplative for its duration and once again being devoid of any lyrical interruption.

“Funny” stomps into a rousing beat and spirited melody, strutting along determinedly while emanating a lot of attitude and expression. It’s an absorbing mixture of country and blues that maintains a resolute rhythm. The fast and funky drum beat of “Shame On Me” takes over next, getting things going ahead of a fun and feisty harmony. Building up a quicker momentum than its predecessors, its fun feel allows for a lighthearted listen. “Sky Eyed Girl” slows back down when its done with biting vocals that ring out across stirring guitars. A haunting harmonica arrives later, helping to emphasize the touching nature of this long and lamenting finale.

Mister Peculiar’s efforts here are admirably ambitious. Changes certainly feels like a musical epic into which a lot of thought and consideration went. While all of its entries might not carry as much weight on their own, it does work well when experienced as a whole. The instrumental and vocal skills displayed throughout are undeniably impressive, but it really needs to be appreciated in its entirety rather than as a collection of individual tracks. Check it out now on its composer’s official site and iTunes.

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Graduate of NUI Maynooth's Department of English, passionate writer of fiction and creative non-fiction alike. Mad about music, movies and books. If there's anything I enjoy more than listening, watching and reading, it's writing about what I listen to, watch and read! Check me out at davecsimpson.wordpress.com, find me on Twitter @davesimpson1 or drop me a line at dave@puremzine.com