by Al Kaufman
Pierce Pettis came out of that '80s folk movement that brought us the likes of Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman and Bill Morrissey. Like the three aforementioned songwriters, Pettis does not waste his time navel gazing or spouting platitudes. He writes honest little stories and slices of life. His characters fall in and out of love and experience doubt and confusion, but they do so in ways that seem personal and real.
That Kind of Lovewas four years in the making. During that time Pettis was able to hone and polish each of the 12 gems on this CD. One, "To Dance," was an older song for which he never could figure out the right arrangement. Stuart Duncan's gentle fiddle ultimately proved to be the perfect compliment to Pettis' homage to the joys of rhythmic bodily movements.
In addition to his own songs, Pettis has a knack for finding chestnuts from other under-appreciated artists. He starts the CD off, as he does every CD, with a Mark Heard cover. "Nothing But the Wind" gets the album off to a breezy, upbeat start, before it settles into its slow groove. He also demonstrates the ability to lay down some blues with his cover of his idol, Jesse Winchester's, "Talk Memphis."
Like folk contemporary John Gorka, or, more appropriately, bluesman Bill Withers, Pettis' voice is rich and honeyed. It is a voice the would bring immediate depth to the Happy Birthday Song. It is a voice that would cover up any poorly constructed song. On That Kind of Love, it need not cover for anything.