Peter Garrett - The True North

Peter Garrett – The True North (Album Review)

Peter Garrett 2024

Formed over five decades ago, Australian Rock band Midnight Oil has been one of the pioneers and pillars of New Wave/Alternative music. With a studio discography of 13 albums – from 1978’s self-titled to 2022’s Resist – they have been nothing less than prolific. As well, their socially involved primarily with Vocalist Peter Garrett’s being an environmental activist and a former politician who held key positions in the Australian government as Minister for the Environment, Heritage & the Arts (from 2007 to 2010), as well as as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood & Youth (from 2010 to 2013).

Looking at Garrett’s story further, in 2016 after his productive political stint, and more than a decade after going on an extended hiatus, he reunited with the rest of Midnight Oil, embarking on a tour. He also released in the same year his debut solo record, titled A Version of Now. Now, the ever active Garrett has unleashed the follow-up in 2024. Released on March 15th, via Sony Music Australia, The True North, according to Garrett, is “generally reflective of special things [that] we need to cherish; the natural world as well as our always spinning internal compass, that helps us navigate the unruly passage of life.

A thought-provoking statement, backing up Garrett in this new sonic oeuvre of his were Grace Garrett (backing vocals), May Garrett (backing vocals), Rowan Lane (bass), Freya Schack-Arnott (cello), Evan Mannell (drums), Martin Rotsey (guitar), Heather Shannon (keyboards, piano), Ollie Thorpe (pedal steel guitar), and Tony Buchen (synthesizer). Produced by Buchen and Garrett himself, The True North is nothing less than a powerhouse. 

Nine songs in total, it opens with the sparse-sounding, melodramatic title-track. This is followed swiftly by the hard-hittin’, four-on-the-floor stomper “Paddo.” Still on the edgy side, but accelerating the vibes a notch higher, “Innocence parts 1 & 2” is a bit progressive yet still melodic, concluded by a semi-acoustic postlude.

Then with “Hey Archetype” Garrett then takes you to exciting and familiar grounds; as it exudes nostalgic echoes of Midnight Oil’s classic favorites “Forgotten Years” and “The Dead Heart.” Another highlight, the bright and shiny “Permaglow” keeps the mood engaging, solidifying that Garrett’s drive, effectively communicated through his grainy impassioned voice, has never waned at all. In fact, this cut will fit well onto a playlist that includes The Alarm’s “Rain in the Summertime,” Cactus World News’ “The Bridge,” Tuesday Blue’s “Tunnel Vision,” R.E.M.’s “Orange Crush,” and U2’s “City of Blinding Lights.” The ensuing “Human Playground,” on the other hand, relaxes you with its slow tempo and lyrical sentiments. The solid and steady track “Currowan” will then remind you of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” Finally, Garrett wraps up his latest endeavor aptly with a pair of piano-oriented ballads, “Meltdown” and “Everybody.”

Whether with the rest of Midnight Oil or on his own, the inspired Garrett is as compelling as he has always been; most likely because his visions are rooted in social and environmental issues -which is what the world always needs, now and forever. Doubtlessly, Garrett sings from his heart and for his people… and The True North is another fiery proof of this determination. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The True North 4 out of 5 stars.

Peter Garrett - The True North album
Peter Garrett – The True North / Sony (2024)

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