Perhaps indie music’s hardest working artist – undoubtedly one of its most creative and expressive. Pete Murphy’s See Me Safe is a powerfully conceptual and eye-opening new album, with lashings of refreshing melody, poetic insight, and musical brilliance.
Pete takes on a notably more emotional, perhaps personal way with the songwriting here. The project feels less theatrical, more focused on underlying concepts and feelings. The sound is still very much Pete Murphy, occasionally big and bold, occasionally quiet, free-flowing and performative to the full. With this though, a certain new poetic angle emerges, and your focus is held most intensely by the pure passion and heartache in the vocals and the lyrics.
Piano-led ballads with refreshing, long-form melodies, and enough observational metaphors to provoke deeper thought for the rest of the year. See Me Safe is a special collection, a moment captured in time, and for all of these reasons it’s one of the most memorable and perhaps the most striking from Pete to date.
Maria kicks things off with rhythm, boldness, brightness – isolation, integrity, social / political poignancy. A fine introduction to a playlist loaded with meaning and uncertainty. Duality then keeps the piano and vocal pairing at the forefront, as Pete recites another hit of poetry with numerous underlying ideas.
Last Will And Testament Of Shame seems more minimalist, offering a latter half that balances piano, strings and electric guitar in a beautifully chaotic, fully immersive and heavily soulful fashion. The quiet scream of shame rains down for the final quarter, a real moment of musical prowess and artistry combined.
Stitches In Clay is a subtly addictive song, an upbeat moment of ear-wormery, melodic satisfaction. Contrast works its magic again, the distortion and the neo-classical, organic backdrop. Pete offers short lines for the hook that resolve with a descending, longer-form reflection of the ultimate truth – something that a child should never have to do. A really well-written song, standing tall on both mainstream qualities and that inescapable, alternative, creatively free quality that runs throughout everything Pete crafts. Brilliant.
It feels like there’s far more deciphering to do than first meets the ear with these songs. You want to dig deeper, into just about every line. Walk In Time / Walking Time marks a short-lived yet solid example. The literal and the unclear walk hand in hand – it intrigues, and holds attention well. What a refreshing route to take when compared the glaringly obvious cliches presented by much of modern pop. Interludes and misdirection aplenty. The mind of the artist invites you inside.
Epiphanies is a song that strikes as one easily worth its weight as a single, a separate entity from the album. A haunting, compelling piano progression joins forces with an equally uncertain cello line. Then you get Pete’s voice, a few notes to start, and a quickly Bowie-like descriptive writing style that further intrigues and captivates.
Soon comes the unique progression, the clever way with structuring that Pete consistently manages to showcase. Hints of optimism clash with melancholy, providing a meandering roller-coaster through darkness and warmth, towards the ultimately broader spectrum of thought – the underlying concept of epiphanies. It’s an experience that often unites people with the universe in which they exist. By the latter half, there’s a sense of beauty, overcoming, brightness, to the instrumentation and the songwriting – even to Pete’s vocal delivery. Space is not important, but I live like a contortionist… Enter space, electric guitar, harmony, and an overall hypnotic outro that leads beautifully towards the chaotic vibrancy of the album’s title track.
See Me Safe takes a sort of alternative Elton pathway. Long-form, engaging stories, personal emotion, vulnerability, a rising energy and anticipation. The song’s hook is simple, satisfying yet alternative enough to appeal; easily recognisable.
Carrion Birds pierces through the silence with its disjointed, eerie simplicity and haunted house unsettle. A metaphorical look at sadness and shame, a mildly harrowing beginning proceeded by a strangely hopeful or accepting, brighter hook section. A fascinating song, well worth more than a single listen; and perhaps a little outside context.
Francis offers an appealing, interesting title and backstory – accompanied by a somewhat mainstream, almost Robbie and Angels-style progression (the similarities end here though). Pete weaves a web of poetic truth that grows clearer as things move along.
I Stood And Stared follows with a much more alternative, unpredictable structure and set-up. A short yet striking, poignant piece of writing and performance, which feels like it should be accompanied by some chaotic, passionate theatrical visuals. Pete excels within the artistic space, never rushing, never stopping until the thought is complete. It’s a rare and commendable trait.
Nothing Sweeter blends in with the near-acoustic ups and downs of the album’s central energy. It resolves with a bright and unexpectedly colourful chorus though – a welcomed moment of unity, an ear-worm finish with a powerful choir of togetherness. Potentially a highlight – a song likely to uplift and energize in a live setting.
Crossing Over rightfully marks the end of this journey. The circus consumes with quiet bites, short references, and a daunting reminder of the approaching finish-line.
Pete’s declaration of illness during the time of recording proves not so much a disclaimer, but rather – an interesting side-note; or additional bit of insight as to the mindset that produces these kind of deeply provocative, thoughtful, complex and often abstract songs. There’s a depth and darkness to much of this project, and a fine balance between subtlety and weight – all of which helps make it possibly his finest album to date.
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50% off all profits from sales of the album will be donated to Maria Mckee’s ‘See Me Safe FFS Fund’, which helps to fund facial feminization surgery for trans individuals. For more information visit Go Fund Me.