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Billy Pettinger - 'Look At Me, I’m Fine' Album Review


1. Smoke

2. Failure To Launch

3. Look At Me, I’m Fine

4. No One Will Notice

5. Call It Off

6. The Awful Truth

7. Ghosties

8. Dogs

9. A Woman On The Brink

10. So Long, It’s Been Fun

Billy the Kid came to my attention many years ago when she was posting covers of songs from artists as diverse as Neil Young to the Wildhearts to Green Day and many others on YouTube. Her covers immediately grabbed me with her awesome voice paired with her acoustic guitar. Quite simply, it sent me scrambling to hear her original material, and I have never been disappointed. Unfortunately, more people have not been paying attention, but hopefully that will change with this new release as this album provided an instant jolt to my soul. Billy Pettinger has created not only another brilliant album but probably my favourite work ever by her.

‘Smoke’ provides the perfect opener with the acoustic guitar setting up the first verse with Pettinger providing a gorgeous melody in the vocal before the piano and drums come into the song. The gradual build of the song leads into a great almost hidden hook, and the deft backing vocals are placed perfectly in the background throughout the song. There are elements of 80’s Rock here but with an alternative feeling that gives it a very unique feel that is both familiar and new. The bass line of ‘Failure To Launch’ is hypnotic with the vocals fitting the music like a glove as Pettinger provides a haunting voice that paints a sonic picture of someone struggling to find her place in the world and feeling more and more alone. ‘Look At Me, I’m Fine’ serves as the perfect counterpunch with its opening line of ‘It feels like the end of the world, there are no heroes left’ over a Rock structure that recalls the Gin Blossoms. The following line of ‘they’re all in jail for telling girls you’ll be the one whose next’ leaves little doubt to me that this song is about a singer who made news recently for exploiting his popularity with aspiring female performers. His former fans should find plenty to love here.

Quiet piano provides a beautiful introduction to ‘No One Will Notice’ with Pettinger using a soft vulnerable vocal through the first verse before the rhythm section comes to the surface. This is simply a great song that gradually increases in tempo and feels like someone putting their arm around you to tell you everything will be okay. ‘Call It Off’ provides plenty of space in the mix for Pettinger’s voice to take centerstage. She has done a tremendous job producing and mixing this record with this song really being a great example. The acoustic strumming is minimal but placed perfectly, and she picks perfect spots for the backing vocals to provide support to the song.

Opening up the back half of the album ‘The Awful Truth’ recalls some mellow Neil Young with the guitar picking giving way to another excellent vocal. Pettinger’s voice possesses a slight roughness to it that is packed tight with her heart and soul to create something magical that is uniquely her. ‘Ghosties’ provides an excellent example as she initially sings just over the piano before the song enters Rock mode with a powerful hook that gives a Rock edge to the song. I would love to see this song become a hit in the summertime. Billy is joined on this album by Chris Barnes (drums), 70s Kevin (cello), and James Menefee (bass); she handles everything else and recorded it in her own studio, except for the drums.

‘Dogs’ provides a captivating short acoustic song that reminds me of Dylan, both musically and lyrically, which can never be a bad thing. The piano again comes to the forefront for ‘A Woman On The Brink,’ and I must say I love all the piano used across this album. Lyrically, this is another that stands out to me and is simply one of my favorite songs from the album. The way it fades out at the end works perfectly as you are so enthralled as the listener that it feels like you are trying to hold onto it for a little longer before it slips away. Closing song ‘So Long, It’s Been Fun’ also opens with just the magical voice and piano and slowly builds. Pettinger has created a song which feels like an epic but is less than 4 minutes, whose title hopefully is not a message about anything more than the end of this album.

While it is always easy to say an artist’s new album is their best work because it is new and exciting, I feel confident saying that you can come back to me in 12 months, and I will tell you again that this is my favorite album by Pettinger. The album has an awesome flow, but, more than that, it has 10 songs that are simply all killer, no filler. The hooks are not over the top; they are subtle and wrap themselves around your soul. This album will be in constant rotation for me, as it should be for you.

‘Look At Me, I’m Fine’ is available now.

Review - Gerald Stansbury

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