True country roamer Pete Berwick is back and ready to tell it exactly how it is with his new album, ‘Island’. Channelling influences from Bruce Springsteen to Steve Earle, Berwick has spent many years walking on the dusty side of the country road, spinning lonely nomadic tales of sorrow and heartbreak.

Following on from the punchy ‘The Legend of Tyler Doohan’, released in 2015, ‘Island’ immediately offers something a little different with the opener ‘I’m Getting Tired of This Place’. While the former album opens with a punch, you can’t help feeling that this one finds Berwick in a weary, tired mood – a feeling that permeates through the entirety of the album. The album is no less striking, however. On the contrary, ‘Island’ is truly a fantastic piece of work.

The album is once again packed with stories and multi-layered characters, whilst also appearing deeply introspective. Berwick is a master of getting his storytelling across, and here this depth is backed up by the superb backing band, The Mugshot Saints. The album is something of a journey, from the bitterness of the opener to the romantic last notes of hope on ‘The Streets of Pasadena’. The album does indeed begin and end on the streets.

Tracks such as ‘Anyway’ offer the familiar country-on-hard-times sound, while others reflect the aforementioned world-weariness, such as title track ‘Island’ and ‘I Am Not Afraid’. Others detail his need to hide, for example in ‘Let’s Make It You and Me Tonight’. Berwick is certainly not afraid to turn on the big choruses for this one, and songs such as ‘One Setback at a Time’, ‘I’m Really Not That Kind’ and ‘They Gave Love a Chance’ are standout tracks on a collectively brilliant album.

‘Island’ is a perfect slice of alternative-country rock ‘n’ roll, full of the dust and grit to be expected from Pete Berwick. And with excellent musicianship complimenting honest songwriting, it is also quite possibly his best album to date.

Author: Craggy Collyde