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Riley Pearce
Riley Pearce

Riley Pearce is a busy man.  Even before the release of his latest EP, Love And All That Stuff, he’s been back in the studio writing and recording new music for his debut album.  This Perth born, globe-trotting, mega streaming singer-song writer is a powerhouse of creative energy, yet he’s also one of the most laid-back artists you’ll come across.  How does he cope with the dialectic of being both things in the same body?  We just had to try to find out.

Love And All That Stuff see’s Pearce at his contemplative, introspective, melancholy-while-he’s-happy best.  It’s a humble yet powerful set of songs that will hold us in Pearce’s thrall until his debut album is released.

“I tend to overwork a lot and struggle to switch off,” Pearce said when we asked him about his hectic work schedule, “so that was a big one in the last year or two to focus on. I think that’s a general problem of the music industry as a whole, with no real workday, sometimes the onus of clocking in and out is up to you. I definitely need to form better habits, looking after myself and allowing myself time to relax.”

It’s a conundrum, though, because if forming better habits meant less time recording and touring, what is good for Pearce wouldn’t be so good for the rest of us.  You see, with the release of Love And All That Stuff, Pearce is in career best form and that’s no mean feat for an artist who has already amassed 60 million Spotify streams, sold out shows all over the world and toured with the likes of The Paper Kites, Lord Huron, Tash Sultana, Lifehouse and Lucy Rose. 

Apologies, Riley, but what the world needs right now is more of you, so we get where you’re coming from, and please look after yourself and all that, but don’t take your foot off the accelerator when it comes to making music.

Never fear, though, for Pearce, taking better care of himself has been having a positive impact on his creativity.

“Yep, I’m currently working on my debut album,” said Pearce. “I’ve been in a really good writing frame of mind lately. Maybe that’s attributable to focusing on looking after myself a bit more. I hope it is.”

Speaking about current EP, Love And All That Stuff, Pearce said, “I’m trying to do things a little differently with every release and that either comes from a song writing place or a recording place. For the last two EPs I wrote a song for each on the piano and that’s still relatively new territory for me – usually I write on guitar. I was also delving into recording and whilst it’s still a very simple song with a certain aural aesthetic I recorded and mixed [final track] ‘Two Parts’ myself in my spare bedroom in Melbourne.

“The more I write the more I’m aware of the melodies and chord progressions I naturally steer myself towards and that’s when I try to shake things up to find something a little left of field or at least a little different to what I’m used to.”

Love And All That Stuff is the sound of Pearce stretching himself as an artist.  The signature folky melancholy that makes people well with emotion every time they listen to his music is still there, but it’s evident that Pearce has been willing to experiment a little with these five songs, flesh out his sound and paint with some different aural colours.

Love And All That Stuff begins with ‘All My Love’ a line in the sand kind of song that revolves around the lyric, All my love, it’s all for her, leaving the listener in no doubt as to Pearce’s possible availability for casual encounters on dating apps and the like.  This is one loved up human being and he wants the world to know the quiet strength of his feeling, and what better way to do that than sing about it?  ‘All My Love’ is a strong opener, typical Pearce, but with augmented instrumentation that helps the song gently expand and contract like the rise and fall of a contented man’s diaphragm.

‘Electricity’ sees Pearce singing about the intimacy of Sunday morning breakfast conversations and the sparks of electricity that come with being in love, dreaming of a life spent together and the burden that creates for him as an artist, as he sings, Maybe one day I’ll write something we can dance to / God knows that’s where the money is.  ‘Electricity’ is mostly just Pearce with his guitar and that voice of his that seeps into your soul.  The words give away everything, his contentment, his angst, and his uncertainty about the future.  They also give us insight into his self-deprecating humour.  One day, maybe, he’ll make a living from his craft? 

We asked Pearce how he was going with his career.  Surely, with all those Spotify streams he must be a rich man by now? 

“I wish!” was Pearce’s reply.  “It’s definitely opened up a lot of opportunities for me musically and allowed me to do this as a fulltime job. I count myself very lucky in this regard. I know a lot of artists with incredible songs struggle to build any sort of income stream and audience from the platform.  I joined Spotify quite early back when you could actually message the artists — yep that was a feature at one stage. It has its pros and cons like anything. It’s great for discovery but you do have to get a lot of streams to make any money, which can be hard if you’re an independent artist. It’s so saturated with new music that it’s a real lottery to take off now.”

Maybe, just maybe, with a lead single like ‘Golden Retriever’, which nestles in the middle of the five tracks on Love And All That Stuff, Pearce will someday be able to live the rockstar lifestyle.  While he’s producing music this good, it would be well deserved.

‘Golden Retriever’, as its name suggests, is a rambunctious puppy dog of a song with a chorus that make you grin stupidly.  It has those sad puppy eyes, sonically speaking, but it’s filled with the sort of love that makes you turn a blind eye when it jumps on your couch to chew its bone.  The bridge features some nifty electric guitar work, and the run home is a prime example of the sort of song writing that Pearce is known for, the stuff that makes you happy while you’re wondering why the hell you’re so sad.  Yeah, this is the good stuff.  Who could send a song like this to the pound? Certainly not me.

‘Night.Love.Sleep’ sees Pearce dialling things back again, just a little bit.  He’s still singing about love and mithering a little over whether he’ll have enough money to make his and his partner’s dreams come true, assuring himself — and us — that, It will be fine.  The shuffling beat of this song gently carries a piano-driven melody that creates space for looking outwards, above, ahead.  It’s a song about leaving and coming home, the ebbs and flows of life and, while things plague his mind sometimes, it’s evident that, for Pearce, life is pretty good.

Final track, ‘Two Parts’, opens up with a guitar riff that’s a bit like listening to Neil Young in slow motion.  It makes sense that Pearce recorded and mixed this track himself in his spare bedroom, as, of all the songs on Love And All That Stuff, it’s probably the one that sounds most like the him that so many people have come to know and love.  A fitting end, then to an EP that charts new directions for an already much-loved artist, because, as Pearce himself sings on this one, It’s my job to carry you through.

Love And All That Stuff see’s Pearce at his contemplative, introspective, melancholy-while-he’s-happy best.  It’s a humble yet powerful set of songs that will hold us in Pearce’s thrall until his debut album is released.

“I hope people really connect with the EP, and that they don’t cry too much,” Pearce said about his latest release. “And if this EP puts me in the good books with my partner, well that would be a nice bonus.” 

Job done would be our assessment, except that not crying too much business.  You can stop that right now, Mr Pearce!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You can follow Riley Pearce on Facebook and Instagram, and find him on the Internet.

April/May tour dates
3 April, Mojos Bar, Fremantle
8 April, Prince Of Wales, Bunbury
15 April, The River, Margaret River
23 April, North West Brewing Co., Karratha
24 April, North West Brewing Co., Karratha
2 May, Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough

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