Sandro Perri – In Another Life

Review by James Samimi Farr

Sandro Perri’s music has formed a deep relationship with my life. I first came into contact with it at Arboretum Festival 2012, where I walked blind into a full-band performance of Impossible Spaces, still one of the most majestic albums I’ve heard. I looked next to me and noticed Shotgun Jimmie beaming up at the stage.

“I hope he plays ‘Wolfman,” Jimmie said. Perri and company launched into its opening Emaj7 chord, and Jimmie threw up devil’s horns. It was a magical evening. Perri’s music packages sophisticated lyrics, incredible guitar playing, a beautiful understanding of synthesis, intricate arrangements, and a voice that, while confident, always feels suffused with an elusive melancholy. It found me at just the right time.

Since then, Perri’s mostly been silent, if you can count a heavy schedule of production work and side projects as silence. So you can imagine my delight when In Another Life, his new LP, came to my attention.

Perri’s music tends to aim for the horizon between popular music and the avant-garde. But this arc never feels like an uneasy compromise between competing values. It’s a very satisfying and cohesive outcome of a particular set of omnivorous obsessions—you can imagine Perri at a party waxing enthusiastic on Fleetwood Mac and Kath Bloom all in one breath. In Another Life continues Perri’s spelunking into his influences, and once again he strikes gold.

“In Another Life,” the album’s first song and foundation stone, projects Perri’s idea of a reality that transcends the muck of modern life. It sounds like a beautiful place, one in which there is “no delusion about what is great”, and there is “nothing to have, no reason to fight.” This exploration of another life lasts 24 minutes, the full first side. The second side comprises three different versions of the same song, “Everybody’s Paris.” One version is sung by him, another by André Ethier and the last by Dan Bejar. While each has the same basic structure and lyrical themes, they are arranged differently with different lyrics. The overall effect is one of deepened and new perspectives. Perri, after suggesting the possibility of another life, gives us three parallel possibilities to consider and live within.

In form, with its long first song and its different versions of the second, the album is gently subversive. (Though I’m not sure if Perri would see it that way, or rather, again, as a natural outcome of his predilections). This is an album for people who like immersive experiences, who like to be embalmed in beauty rather than dunked in and out of it. It would be easy to see In Another Life as a rebuke of the devaluation of music—its patient, oblique, and cyclical qualities contrasting our habits of inattentively listening to short pop tunes, fast-forwarding to the beat drop.

But In Another Life is far too friendly and accessible to work as a rebuke. I see it as an invitation to new possibilities, new ways of engaging with art and with each other. We are being warmly beckoned into another life, a better one.