Grant Peeples was born in Tallahassee, Florida in 1957, and you can tell both of those things from listening to Punishing the Myth. His age is shown by his nostalgia for the cars of the 60s and 70s, and for the Austin Texas scene of the 90s. His Florida roots show in his accent during the spoken-word segments, and in a bit of a Southern tinge to his instrumentation. His label calls him a folk/roots artist, but you could also add the categories of singer-songwriter, rock, and country. Producer Gurf Morlix brings in more instruments, and a more polished and (in some parts) ornate soundstage than I'm used to from a folk artist. It all works wonderfully.
The lead song "You're a Slave to Your Imagination" would fit into nearly any format, with a jazz horn, slow sultry vocals, an electric guitar that wouldn't be out of place in rock, and a comfort-food lounge-lizard sensibility. Wow.
Who Woulda Thunk it is a Greg Brown cover that brings up memories of Dire Straights. The New American Dream is a bouncy social-conscience complaint against commercialism and money-grubbing one percenters. The Morning After The Coup seems inspired by the decade Peeples spent living in Nicaragua, but might happen anywhere where violent change interrupts everyday life. The subject is dark, but the toe-tapping rhythm sucks you in.
She Was A Wildflower is a portrait of a free spirit, war-protesting woman of the kind they don't make any more. The southern guitar is strong in this one. The online notes call Aunt Lou "a love song to a long-dead lesbian aunt" but the lyrics don't stand close scrutiny. The focus is all on her masculine skills and lifestyle, and not at all about who she loved. The Hanging is a chiding folk ballad about a celebratory crowd gathered to watch an execution, followed by Training In The Charnel Ground, in which a novice watches vultures devour the dead as part of his education.
High Octane Generation is a fun paean to the age of the automobile, when a man used his own arm power to roll down his window and could rebuild a carburetor without needing a computer. Spoken word, unaccompanied. I Can't Imagine Him Carrying A Carbine is a dirge from a father seeing a son too weak to join the militia.
It's Too Late to Live in Austin is a strong close to the album, a personal narrative of a man moving in to Austin Texas, just as a long-timer who can't tolerate the changes is moving out. Spoken word over guitar, with Sarah Mac popping in with a few choice sung lines.
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