CD Review of In the Ocean of the Stars by Peter Salett
Recommended if you like
David Mead, Josh Rouse, Willy Porter
Label
Dusty Shoes
Peter Salett:
In the Ocean of the Stars

Reviewed by Jeff Giles

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Y
ou may not know his name, but if you caught “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” in theaters, you’ve heard Peter Salett’s music; that was his musical genius behind the Dracula-themed puppet musical that forms a crucial component of the plot. Having said that, it bears mentioning that if you go into Salett’s latest album expecting to hear songs suitable for singing by undead puppets, you’ll come away sorely disappointed.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a set of moody, frequently ethereal folk/pop songs, deep enough to dive into for days at a time, then Salett’s In the Ocean of the Stars will be right up your proverbial alley. He’s a New York cat, but Stars is cut from the same cloth used by introspective Nashville singer/songwriters like Josh Rouse; Stars is chock full of close, quiet vocals, melancholy piano, and atmospheric guitars.

But wait – there’s more. With its classic chords and gentle strings, “Magic Hour” could almost be the work of a bizarro world Randy Newman, and “That Old Road” sounds like it could have been found at the bottom of a shoebox in the back of Daniel Lanois’ closet. (These are good things.) Salett’s music is subtle to the point of clinically diagnosed shyness, but Stars still has a powerful pull – it’s the kind of record you can play a dozen times back-to-back without getting tired of it, instead finding new things about each song with every listen.

If the album has a major flaw, it’s probably just that it’s so damn pretty and mellow that it’ll be easy for casual listeners to dismiss it as wallpaper. It takes balls or insanity – or both – to cut a pop record without any big pop hooks, especially in an era when music lovers are inundated with choices everywhere they turn; most listeners simply aren’t going to switch off the spout long enough to give an album like In the Ocean of the Stars the time it requires. Then again, with that movie money helping to pay the rent, Salett can probably afford to be as esoteric as he chooses.

Sound intriguing? You can satisfy your curiosity for free – Spinner is hosting a full-album stream.

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