Peter Buffet, "Imaginary Kingdom."
I got this assignment as a request from a good friend because of my
writing and music background. I had the same response most of
you would have. Peter Buffet? Is he related to Jimmy Buffet?
So I was primed for some similar music to one of my all time
Then I found out that Peter is not related to Jimmy,
worse that he is the son of Warren Buffet, the billionaire
investment guru. Why worse? Because my pre-judgment kicked in.
"OK, a rich guy's son who has the money to indulge his pretensions
to musical ability and is riding on his father's name.
You see I had no previous experience with his work, his focus,
or his experience in the industry. I simply didn't know who he is.
And that "who" is important, because he is not by any stretch a
poor little rich kid, but an artist with a voice of his own.
For those whose pre-judgment kicked in already here is your
short and shallow review. This is a great album to relax by a
fire with your significant other, or to spend a lazy day reading
and having some background music that is more than pleasant.
Or to de-pressurize after a tough day. The production values
are excellent, and if you don't listen to lyrics, just want
the ambiance of a mellow experience, this album is a winner.
If you like Jeff Lynn and ELO, especially his solo
"Armchair Theater" album, you'll love the sound of this album.
So you can stop reading here, get the album, and enjoy.
For the rest, just curious or otherwise, read on.
This album is a gem, and I'll spend the time to tell you why.
You have to do the same to get it.
However, if you liked the alienation and social commentary of
Simon and Garfunkel, the social commentary of Zagar and Evans,
and even thought that the bopping ditty "They Paved Paradise
and Put Up a Parking Lot" had some message to listen to, then
you are in the right age group for Peter's album.
You want some substance, and integrity in the lyrics, but not at
the expense of a lot of hard work to overcome the sound.
He goes as deep as Simon and Garfunkel, and as easy to listen
to as the "Sergeant Pepper's" album.
So let's deal with the rich kid reaction. Nope, used his money
to fund his projects, dad does not fund them, and he has to earn
a living just like all of us have to do. Do your own googles
to see what I mean.
OK if you did your google on him you are ready to read on.
Peter already has won Emmy's for his work, has been in the
business for decades, and somehow I missed him. Why?
Because he never sang, instead doing soundtracks
for "Dances with Wolves" etc.
He has found his voice literally. It is about time,
much to my pleasure.
If you have read this far, here we go.
The lyrics are layered, and if you don't go to his bio online,
your first impression is that they are all about love lost.
Sure some of them are, but the message is more, deeper, and heartfelt.
Because of his background, his philanthropy, his beliefs that
come from a perspective slightly off from the workaday world,
while living that world, it is easy to dismiss and not think.
Is this the arrogance of the rich?
Let's go to the tracks, and my initial impressions, interpretations.
Track one "Mean That Much"
Quirky, catchy, a fun listen, and a personal saga of the conundrum
of interpersonal relationships. See what you think. Been there done that?
Track two "Go So wrong"
Is this about another leaving? About a personal relationship?
About a biz deal gone wrong? Creatives? Listen, you decide.
Track three "How Do You Sleep"
Now we get into what I interpret as the real social commentary.
It is the current American story of powerlessness to influence the
system, or is it? Is it a personal relationship? I think not, it
is a call to conscience for me. How do we sleep? How do you sleep?
Track four the title track "Imaginary Kingdom"
We all create our own realities, as a culture, or as an individual,
we see the world and our relationships to it in the macro and the
micro, based on our set and setting. We buy into it, it is simply
comfortable. But is it? From the personal micro to the world view
macro, don't we all see only what we want to see? Except in the
wee hours of the morning, when we wake up, and look in the mirror,
and examine our premises honestly fr just a minute, and turn away.
Track five "Can I (again)"
The personal, and second chances. We've all been there,
and Peter nails it with his lyrics, and his vocals.
The strain of give and take in personal relationships as they,
and the people in them evolve.
Track six "Ready"
Is this the arrogance of being right, or the moral imperative
to do right? Boy does this have the ELO sound.
Track seven "Wrap It Up In Blue"
If you have to ask, you didn't listen. Good beat and sound.
Track eight "Independence Day"
Whose box are you in?
Track nine "Who I Am"
Good beat, and regrets, don't we all.
Track ten "Find Me Too"
Alienation pure and simple.
Track eleven "U+I"
Loss, pain, and regret.
Track twelve "Another Day"
The angst of no answers, no control, and just watching
it unfold . . . helplessly.
Track thirteen "Set Us Free"
Just go there?
Track fourteen "Can We Love?"
The initial anticipation, hope and desire for a new
relationship to be the one that we can love.
In summary Peter has shared his world and personal
view through his lens, and his perspective. But
instead of being dour and boring, packaged his
insights into himself, as well as his questions
about the world, into a very well done album that
is worth at least a listen, and may be a favorite
for many. Give it a try, see what you think.
I liked it.
Derek Gore 01/12/2009