Weaving thoughtful, introspective lyrics with irresistible melodies, Vanessa Peters has been releasing album after album of well-crafted folk/rock gems for more than a decade. She has played thousands of shows across the US and Europe and has recently opened for artists like Josh Rouse, 10,000 Maniacs, John Oates, Matthew Sweet, Mikaela Davis, and Lucette.
Peters’s new album, Modern Age, presents 11 tracks of energetic, guitar-driven pop/rock. With recording plans thwarted by the 2020 pandemic, Vanessa decided instead to build on a series of demos recorded on the road in the Netherlands and Germany during her last tour. Vanessa and the band holed up in a farmhouse in Castiglion Fiorentino, the small town in Italy that Peters had once called home. Over the course of 10 days, the band worked to finish the songs they’d begun the year prior and to tackle the batch of new songs that Vanessa had written in the meantime.
Peters’s previous album of original material, Foxhole Prayers, was a successful and critically-acclaimed folk/rock endeavour that put Peters on the national stage with a glowing 4-star MOJO review plus invitations to perform at NPR’s Mountain Stage, 30A, and AmericanaFest. Foxhole Prayers was a deeply introspective album, very much in line with what reviewers and fans have come to expect from Peters.
Modern Age turns those expectations upside-down. From the opening power chords of the Foo Fighters-influenced title track, it’s obvious that this album is headed in a new direction: collaborating closely with her band brought a fresh, raucous energy to this collection that has rarely surfaced before outside of Peters’s live shows. Songs like “Crazymaker” are rich with driving electric guitars atop 4-on-the-floor AC/DC-inspired drum beats, while the insistent, pulsing keyboards and angular guitar riffs on “Hood Ornament” call to mind bands like Spoon and LCD Soundsystem.
Yet despite the shimmery pop-rock packaging these songs are wrapped in, Peters doesn’t shy away from pulling the lyrical punches she is known for. She’s downright angry on “Yes,” unleashing a tidal wave of frustration at being written off as a “chick singer.” On “Make Up My Mind,” she wrestles with indecision and self doubt, channeling 90s-era Smashing Pumpkins grunge, while “Never Really Gone” is a luminous, Fleetwood Mac-esque take on the joy of discovering that you can, in fact, go home again.
For years it’s been too easy to casually lump Vanessa Peters into a kind of generic Americana category, when in reality her records have run the gamut from indie-pop to alt-country to experimental folk to 70s-era throwback singer/songwriter rock. But in Modern Age, she has stripped away all songwriterly pretense to build a modern/classic rock album that reveals a steely defiance. In the midst of a truly dark year, she and the band have conspired to make an album that is simultaneously powerful but playful; intense yet sensitive; both angry and hopeful. In Modern Age, we find Peters once again writing and delivering songs of exceptional lyrical and musical power, further cementing her reputation among the new generation of American songwriters.
GENRE: POP / ROCK
FOR FANS OF: Liz Phair, Jenny Lewis, Aimee Mann, Crowded House
“Her pounding, melodic tracks have the intensity of short stories…. Bolshy, blazing letters from the new front line. ⭐⭐⭐⭐” – MOJO
“A brilliant songwriter with a literary quality that makes her songs comparable to short stories, Vanessa Peters is Dallas’s Aimee Mann.” – Dallas Morning News
“…rich, seductive vocals remind me of Lucy Kaplansky and Canada’s under-appreciated Lynn Miles, and her instantly accessible songs—a mix of gorgeous ballads and well-hooked rockers—come loaded with pensive, clever lyrics. The instrumentation, which includes acoustic and electric guitars, mellotron, and drum machines, seems redolent of the great solo albums by Crowded House’s Neil Finn.” – No Depression
“A superb socially conscious album for our times delivered in inspirational tones” – Americana UK
“A masterful storyteller and supremely gifted lyricist, Peters’ words sparkle like diamonds in the lines of Carnival Barker.” – Ink19
“Foxhole Prayers is an evocative and meaningful reminder of the role that music can play in confronting adversity, whether it be personal or societal.” – Twangville