Debut album coming
April 23, 2021
We all know those albums: like a warm compress firmly applied to your forehead, they soothe us when our lives become untenable. Whether the weather is unbearable or our personal lives are, it’s albums like Real Enough for You Now that offer the balm that 2021 is calling for. Vacillating between Scott Walker via The Ronettes on “With Anybody” or the beautiful crescendoing whisper of “Be Good to Yourself,” over the course of the album’s eleven tracks, one thing becomes clear: Ditchbird’s debut album showcases an artist bursting at the seams with years of talent ready to emerge.
The production resides in the warm confines of Americana’s softly reverbed palette, yet the songs never rest easily in the oft-creaky rocking chair of folk’s musical platitudes. It helps that this is the project of Tony Petersen, a guitarist for Social Animals (Rise Records), who has toured with the likes of Dashboard Confessional and All-American Rejects. Touring for years has offered him a unique insight into not only the plethora of genres to be exercised, but also the songwriting chops essential to carry a project across the finish line.
Upon being waylaid from touring due to the pandemic, Petersen finally sat down to review the myriad of songs he’d written, and he found that he’d “been sitting on some of these songs for a really long time”: “I had grown really comfortable with them and know them inside out.” At that point, having refined his playing through gigging and innumerable studio sessions, he also began asking himself “What genre do I want to lean into?”
Petersen is so adept as a musical talent that he can hop from the electronic flourishes of “Bright Side” to country-style licks on “Radio Silence” without forgoing absolute showstoppers like the stomping “Same Show Different Room,” or the star-gazing strut of the title track. And through each of these is the locomotive-like drawl of Petersen, a beautiful tenor whose dulcet tones take on an extraterrestrial quaver a la Marc Bolan at his most restrained.
Nowhere is this bewitching alchemy at play more than on the metronomic rocker “Be Good to Yourself,” a loving blend of heartland-rock and reverb-laden confessional. The song’s ripping lead is quickly displaced by echoing delay before the chorus beseeches the listener to “be good to yourself,” a message with warmth and necessity. Likewise, with the single “In it Together,” a paean to creativity, passion and love in tumultuous times.
Earning its moniker from a certain type of kamikaze-like bird, Petersen came up with his solo project’s name after traveling cross country on his motorcycle - alone. If a solo outing across the nation with literal inches between you and death isn’t enough to make you flirt with an existential crisis, Petersen also noticed that certain birds would dive out at you from the side of the road, tempting fate - both theirs and Petersen’s - each time. Petersen promises that it is “deliberately more positive” than your typical singer songwriter fare. He readily admits “it’s not a rager,” and qualifies that by adding “if you put it on, people will ideally still be able to dance to it,” a goal which too few of this ilk of songwriter even attempt.
It bears repeating that, though he has been a player in the Minneapolis, MN music scene for years, this is Petersen’s first solo outing after years spent touring with his main gig as guitarist for Social Animals. To hear Petersen tell it, this was a “cleaning of the closet” in some ways, wrestling his love of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Marah, and The Replacements - a lifetime of passion for music - into the inspiration necessary for him to finally “lay down” these eleven tracks recorded at DoublePug Studios in Minneapolis. While Petersen mostly exercised his skills as a polymath by writing, producing, mixing, mastering and engineering, he also enlisted the help of Ben Cosgrove (keys) and Jill Zimmerman (vocals) to help round out the sessions.
Most of us are well-versed in the pandemic-album narrative at this point, but whereas many of the albums “gifted” to the culture are gluttonous larks by established brands, Real Enough for You Now sets itself apart in not only its narrative of a working musician sidelined by the pandemic, finally getting the time to lay down a decade’s worth of material, but also in the surprising range and depth of these songs. While touring is on hold for the time being, Petersen offers the best gift in these times: respite.
- Bobby Cleveland
Social Animals - Music Videos
Social Animals - Cold
Jill & Tony - I'm On Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
Social Animals - Arguably Useless Rhymes
Guitar Solo Sample
Writer, performer, banjoist and guitarist Tony Petersen began playing guitar at age 15 and has been performing across the country since high school.
Tony is currently a part of the national touring act Social Animals (www.thesocialanimals.com), has a solo project under the name Ditchbird, and is one half of the folk/americana duo Jill & Tony (www.jillandtonymusic.com).
Petersen also records commercial music, with music being used in ads by ABC News and Smirnoff Vodka.
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2011, Tony founded Boss Booking and Management and began booking musical acts into venues throughout the US.
Beyond the music that can be heard above, Tony co-wrote and co-produced five bluegrass albums with the Duluth band Saint Anyway, and produced the album "Ride Of My Life" with Duluth act Colleen Myhre.