Ukuleles and Dogs

Life & Love & Us (Independent)
Nick Peay

By Kevin Gibson

The ukulele is such a distinctive sounding instrument that it is almost a make-or-break thing. Reactions might vary from "hey, that's a good tune for a ukulele" to "why the hell is there a ukulele in that song?" This is why you don't hear a lot of ukuleles in death metal.

Louisville's Nick Peay puts the ukulele front and center in his fun and happy songs, and guess what? It sounds right at home almost to the point that it would be tough to imagine Peay's music without that familiar tone of the miniature stringed instrument.

His new album Life & Love & Us is a happy little jaunt. It kicks off with the merry ditty "Wild Dreams," which is about getting away from life and leaving your cares behind you. Musically, it is driven by the ukulele and adorned with a brief guitar solo and whistling.

"Swept Away" is a weather metaphor connecting last spring's ridiculous flooding and getting swept away with emotions. This track has some gorgeous backing vocals that help give it, pun intended, necessary depth.

"Haunting Place" follows a couple from their first date through the end of their lives together. While the title sounds heavy, it really is just a song about enduring love. It even mentions going on a picnic and taking along a box of wine. This song reminds vaguely of the style of Fran Healy of the Scottish band Travis a great compliment. Besides, you gotta like a love song that mentions boxed wine, right?

Again, all of this illustrates the point that ukulele, an inherently happy sounding instrument, simply fits in Peay's music. Much like the ukulele, Peay is almost impossibly upbeat, and even his vocal delivery seems inherently bright. In a time of the angst-filled and sexually-driven music on the airwaves, this collection is a nice breath of fresh air. Almost literally.

The album culminates with "A Day in the Life (of My Dog)," which is exactly what the title suggests. As Peay notes in a video introducing the album, "in a dog's mind, pretty much every day is the best day ever." And there you have it. Dog lovers need to have this song on their iPods, like, now. The rest of the album is worth a shot for all you fans of life and love and happiness.

Find out more at Peay's CD release show is Aug. 13 at Monkey Wrench.