Peter Himmelman

Unstoppable Forces

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If 1998's Love Thinketh No Evil was a little too rock-oriented for some Peter Himmelman fans (aka Himmelfans), then the follow-up disc, Unstoppable Forces, should help to ease them back into the fold. By stripping away some of Love's heavy production, the songs on Unstoppable Forces gain more focus and work together to create Himmelman's most consistent set of songs since 1992's Flown This Acid World. The change is immediately noticed upon hearing the opening guitar strains of "The Deepest Part," a beautiful acoustic piece that brings to mind the more organic folk leanings heard on 1991's From Strength to Strength. The song's quiet setting provides an ideal showcase for Himmelman to express quotable lyrics like "a man is just the sum of what he loves." Later songs are not as subdued as this opening gem, but even the rockers like "So Many Little Lies" and "Still Don't Know" retain a melodic, hooky charm that was buried on Love. "Racing Off to Nowhere" has a roots rock feel that recalls the work of John Hiatt, while the theatrical "Red Like Jupiter" could fit quite well on an Aimee Mann collection. A new studio recording of "One Shot," originally heard on the live disc Stage Diving, gets a darker treatment that flips the tone of the previous version's optimistic lyrics. Himmelman even sounds revitalized, as his vocals are more passionate and relaxed. Also included on the Unstoppable Forces disc are two bonus tracks, "Josiah" and "The Best Kind of Answer," along with a bonus disc titled Himmelvaults, Vol. 3. This is the third disc in a series that showcases rare and unreleased material from Himmelman's catalog. Although these discs are hit-or-miss affairs, they include worthwhile tracks that, for one reason or another, fell through the cracks when originally recorded. Himmelvaults, Vol. 3 offers a few lost treasures, like the plaintive ballad "What We Set Out to Be" and the rockin' "Long Time Comin' Back," while Himmelman's quirkier side is highlighted by curiosities like "Ambien," a trip-hop ode to the title drug, and the Randy Newman-inspired "Fatherhood." Although Unstoppable Forces doesn't break any new ground, it is a welcome return to form and another satisfying entry into a catalog that is already packed with excellent material.

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