With a title that evocative, it’s not surprising that The Day That Peace Broke Out proves the highlight track of Andy Bassett’s new album.
The intriguingly quirky lyrical content aside it has a great story – a song Bassett wrote and recorded (synth-based) two decades ago, that he has been wanting to re-do with real strings ever since. Enter Australian Celtic trio Springtide plus various Taranaki orchestral musicians, and that long-held dream has now been realised.
Born in England, Bassett visited NZ in the 1980s and has since made New Plymouth his home. The ‘peace’ he sings of is a perversely ironic one in which the PM comes on TV to appeal for calm saying that, “He’d been talking to the US of A, they’d assured him that peace doesn’t pay…” and promised “…it will all be over by Christmas Day.”
Irony abounds elsewhere in Bassett’s poetry, clearly evidenced in companion titles like Can I Get You On Prescription? (clever) and Just Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Most at home playing acoustic guitar or electric bass he can play most stringed instruments, as well as programme drums, and has that folky talking/singing style that means his songs wander along to a natural rhyme and rhythm.
A few are entirely his own making (Astrid and When Ziggy Came Back From The War), but elsewhere a selection of 20-odd musicians and vocalists helped out, with instruments ranging as widely as hammered dulcimer, oboe, harp and taiko drum. As his isn’t a strong singing voice the instrumental variety and frequent lyrical humour across the album’s 12 tracks helps immensely to maintain listener interest.
‘The Day That Peace Broke Out’ was recorded over a three-year period, in six different studios. It wavers in places, a bit twee here, a little too kids’ music there, but altogether it’s a meaningful and rewarding homage to numerous human inspirations, not least the late David Bowie. Rather than being all about war (or peace), this is an album about life and community.