CD Review: Perry Acker - “Path to Freedom”

Gig Harbor-based Perry Acker's debut studio album "Path to Freedom" is a shining example of the band's high-polished, high-talent and highly-smooth music.

A mix of smooth jazz, soft crooning vocals, and mellow classic rock basics, "Path to Freedom" is feel-good jam-styled music with enough gumption to take center stage, as well as serve as an easy-on-the-soul backdrop for all the recent sunny days in the Pacific Northwest.

Perry Acker's first full-length release showcases a line-up of songs their growing fan-base has already gotten to know in their live performances, mixing catchy pop melodies, with offbeat instrumental breakdowns, and downright sexy undertones.

Perry Acker, formed during front man and songwriter Pete Johnson's high school days with drummer Grady Lester and bassist Brandon Meade, was named after Johnson's great-grandfather - an accomplished Northwest landscape painter and artist.

Over the last two years, and with the addition of Pete's brother Mark Johnson on keys and guitarist Rick Powers, Perry Acker has made name for themselves locally and nationally as they fine-tune their sound that has been compared to a modern day Beatles due to their clean image and range of musical expression, according to the band's website.

In February 2011, Perry Acker won Ford Motor's national battle of the bands, "Gimme the Gig" competition, which allowed them to record their debut album with seven-time Grammy winning producer Don Was last spring.
The touch of professionalism due to Was' influence on "Path to Freedom" definitely helps set Perry Acker apart from various other local acts, but the boys' live sets are a testament to their true musical talent in their equally smooth-as-silk live performances.

Twangy, jazz-laced extended guitar solos complement Pete's soulful and expressive vocals, which showcases the often emotional subject matter of his songs. Topics range from long-gone childhood dreams in "Spaceman" to struggling with internal fears in the summery "Stepping Stones."

Standout tracks on the album include Perry Acker's more sultry sounds, including "It's a Groovin' Life," instrumental "Out of the Woodwork" (which features an impressive saxophone solo by Paul Sawtelle) and fan favorite "Broke."

Catch Perry Acker Live Feb. 10 at the Nectar Lounge in Seattle with Cody Beebee and the Crooks and Redwood Son.

Find out more about the band, buy their album or other merchandise at www.perryacker.com.

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