Pete Kilpatrick is one of the most successful independent musicians to come out of Maine. Over the course of 13 years, he’s released seven full-length albums — including his brand-new one, “Echo,” due out on April 22 — he’s toured with Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz, and he’s sold more than 40,000 records without major label backing.
Is he a household name across the country? No, but considering the majority of his successes have come through hard work, and he’s built his fan base almost entirely on the strength of his touring and his recordings, Kilpatrick’s success is nothing to be sniffed at. In fact, more Maine bands should learn from his example.
“Echo,” recorded over the course of a few weeks at HearStudios in Camden, is very much a part of Kilpatrick’s ouevre — gentle, intelligent acoustic songwriting, in the vein of Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Guster and David Gray. But where “Echo” differs from previous Kilpatrick records is its loose, comfortable vibe. Most of the record was recorded live, with the full band playing together, and that warm, relaxed feeling permeates every track. Standout songs like “Sleepwalker,” which could easily be a lead single, and the piano-driven “Pearl,” which wouldn’t feel out of place on an Ed Sheeran album, showcase Kilpatrick’s knack for songwriting that combines pop chops with sensitive, introspective lyricism. “Blue Eyes,” like so many of Kilpatrick’s songs, benefits from a sunny, optimistic, sing-a-long hook, though it’s album closer, “Tallest Trees,” that might be the album’s high point — a melancholic, soulful piano ballad that brings to mind the best moments of Coldplay, before they were headlining football stadiums and collaborating with Beyonce.
Kilpatrick — a husband and a father at age 33, with hundreds of songs and thousands of tour dates under his belt — is now a veteran. That ease with his voice, his guitar and his personality adds a level of confidence on “Echo” that’s hard to find on in most other Maine bands. Like I said, that success is nothing to be sniffed at. If you work hard and put yourself out there, you too can write ten songs and record them, seemingly effortlessly. You don’t just wake up one day being able to do that. You have to earn it. Kilpatrick has.
The Pete Kilpatrick Band will play a record release show for “Echo” on Saturday, April 30 at Portland House of Music and Events, with guest Ports of Spain. Pete Kilpatrick will play a solo show on May 21 at Frontier in Brunswick.