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Great Big World

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Album Review

Great Big World is Pierce Pettis' third recording for Compass Records, an album that once again delivers what fans have come to expect from this literate singer/songwriter: solid material, tasteful accompaniment, and a fine presentation. The album cover itself, a brightly hand-painted picture of a sailor in a small sailboat, seems to promise good things. As always, Pettis offers thoughtful material like "Leonardo," a reflection on the Renaissance's most well-known painter, and "Black Sheep Boy," a meditation on the allure of a misbehaving soul. Although Pettis is perhaps best known for his own compositions, he does a great job handling material by other writers, including Mark Heard's "Another Day in Limbo." There's also a fine version of the traditional "Shady Grove." Pettis' interpretations of his and others' work reveals him as a sensitive singer, and the low-key accompaniment provides solid, discerning support. While singer/songwriters have the rep of penning depressing pieces about love and life, Pettis ends Great Big World on an upbeat note with the hopeful "Love Will Find You Again" and the quiet "Song of Songs." Fans of Pettis' former work, and fans of singer/songwriters in general, will welcome the release of Great Big World. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi

Customer Reviews

Strong songwriting, excellent spare production & performance

I've thought for more than a decade that Pierce Pettis is one of the country's great songwriters in the Americana tradition. He continues to cement that reputation. When a friend of my first heard "Alabama 1969" performed live (before the release of this album), he described it as "exquisite". I concur; what begins by tapping a vein in our collective memories turns profoundly poignant. "Leonardo" makes universal connections to the character of Da Vinci. (No code is necessary to understand the song.) The imagery throughout the album is both vivid and subtle. Though his own song-writing is strong, his decision to continue covering one song per album devoted to the late Mark Heard cannot be questioned; his cover of "Another Day in Limbo" is my favorite yet. Pettis is an accomplished acoustic guitarist. His voice is expressive. His love songs ring sincere and steer clear of sappiness. Melodies are catchy without being trite. Backing musicians are superb. Gary West's production brings out the best.

What a treat

If you like Cockburn, Gorka, JT give this a shot.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

You know you've got a shot when Joan Baez covers one of your songs. That's what sparked the career of Alabama singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis in 1979 when Baez chose to include "Song at the End of the Movie" on her Honest Lullaby. From there, Pettis was involved with the Fast Folk movement in New York in the '80s alongside artists such as Shawn Colvin and Suzanne Vega. He continued to write songs and eventually embarked on his solo career in 1987 with the independent release of Moments, an album...
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Great Big World, Pierce Pettis
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