Peter Gabriel discards drums, guitar for new album

Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:33pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British rock singer and songwriter Peter Gabriel has taken what he calls the "scary" step of paring down a new album of cover songs confined to orchestral instruments and his voice.

Called "Scratch my Back," the album is being released in the United Kingdom on February 15 and the United States on March 2. It is Gabriel's first solo album in eight years and features 12 covers of artists ranging from experienced to emerging, including Radiohead, Talking Heads and Regina Spektor.

But it is far from just another album of cover songs, according to the singer who just turned 60 years-old. He said that in return, the artists will reinterpret Gabriel's songs on a second album called "I'll Scratch Yours."

"It's scary," Gabriel told Reuters about the album and an upcoming tour of Europe in March and the United States in May. "But I wanted to do something a little bit different and something quite fresh for me."

Early reviews have described "Scratch My Back" as a poignant, contemplative album that is stripped down to the essentials, featuring just Gabriel's voice accompanied by chamber instruments as well as brass and keyboards.

"I thought we could take away the guitar and take away the drums and just use the pallet of the piano and the orchestra," he said. "Normally I have a thing about how to fix the lyrics or the arrangement, and on this I was really focused on being a singer and interpreting songs, so that was good.

"Some of it is quite stark and empty but from my taste it works better as a whole," he added.


<p>Musician Peter Gabriel sits for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in New York, January 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>