A musical generation or two removed from Aimee Mann and Natalie Merchant, Vanessa Peters has one element neither artist can claim: a prolific streak. An independent artist with multiple releases credited to her name in the last decade, as well as those released with Ice Cream on Mondays, her former band composed of Italian musicians, Peters has built a sturdy international following of her own road-worn accord and crowdfunded albums.
Returning after her last proper solo album, 2012’s The Burn The Truth The Lies, Peters’ latest, The Burden of Unshakeable Proof, finds the Dallas, Texas-based singer/songwriter taking an omniscient view of one emotionally crippled by the undoing of love.
Amidst the ever-present chirp of nature, “All of These Years” masks the internal pain and collective history cried out in divorce proceedings while the frame of “206 Bones” is reduced to kindling, yet an encapsulated organ remains, forever scarred. By dissecting the human anatomy, Peters’ diagnosis of the stasis of “Paralysis Bug” is to peel back the interior shell on “Cage,” voicing with indifference that “The heart is just a muscle / Hurting ‘cause it’s guarding / Something else that’s buried deep inside.”
Trading lyrical surgery for psychoanalysis, Peters frames The Burden of Unshakable Proof in two halves: the former being one of restraint, the latter dealing in self-rebuke. Bringing Robert Frost into the fore on “Mending Fences,” Peters reluctantly offers, “And I don’t know when everything became impossible / Don’t know when everything became an obstacle / Maybe I just ran out of steam / Maybe I just woke up from a long long dream.” With her unhurried Texas delivery, Peters chides, “It wouldn’t hurt to hide a detail or two / But you hardly ever tell the whole truth” on the sugar-tongued “Maudlin Laundry.” Abiding by her own advice on the hopeful hopscotch of “Change Your Disguise,” Peters gets to living, noting “the living shouldn’t play the dead.”
For its subject matter, The Burden of Unshakable Proof is a buoyant and lively collection of songs, a hug of knowing enlivened by the inviting voice of Peters. Future generations may refute Peters’ claim that “I am not a script you’re gonna study / I’m not a lesson to be learned” for The Burden of Unshakable Proof is a master class in probing matters of the heart.
Stream/purchase The Burden of Unshakable Proof on vinyl, CD and digital formats below.