In a world where music often prioritizes sheen over substance, aesthetics over authenticity, and perfection over purpose, a refreshing wind blows through “Inspired By Cider,” an intentionally unpolished, do-it-yourself opus courtesy of Pete Gwilt. Armed with just a voice and an unadorned guitar, Pete ventures into the realm of oft-improvised lyrics, devoid of sonic frills and untouched by post-production alchemy. What you hear are the songs in their raw, untamed glory as they spill forth from the heart of a performer.

Now, you might be inclined to dismiss this as a mere cost-cutting exercise, a low-fi, low-production approach taken to avoid emptying the coffers. But that’s a misstep for sure, for Pete has plans for a follow-up album decked out in all the production finery down the line. The message he imparts with this approach is a potent reminder: the song reigns supreme, not the studio gloss or gimmickry. This dear readers, is what music truly sounds like in the intimate confines of a small backroom venue or emanating from a street busker when experienced up close and personal.

His attitude harks back to luminaries of yore like Daniel Johnston and Nick Drake and even further back through the annals of musical history. “Inspired By Cider” boasts tracks like “Living The Dream,” which weave together some disarmingly simple guitar threads, underscoring the power of layering musical strands to create rich tones and textures. Then there’s “I’m Getting Wiser,” leading us down a bluesy backroom alley, and “Dolphin Friendly Tea,” a hushed and unassuming gem. “Exit on the Elevator” spins a spiralling, serpentine riff over robust rhythms.

A part of me longs to hear these songs fully explored and adorned, but the greater part of me resists, knowing that the essence lies in experiencing music crafted in the moment, created on a shoestring budget, and born from the purest of motivations. That, my friends, is the very essence of this album—an unvarnished testament to music’s truest form.

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