Spilt Milk is the work of a lifelong musician who in recent years has also turned to writing and lecturing about his chosen field. Pete Astor is aware of the legacy that has unwound behind him since forming the Loft in the 1980s, but as the title of his new album suggests, he also seems wary of too much reflection on the past. After the requisite amount of second-act dabbling outside his comfort zone, Astor has here rediscovered his jangle ‘n’ roll voice, giving fans of the Weather Prophets, as well as his earliest solo records like Submarine, ten easy going reasons to get reacquainted.
The album shares some of the cozy wood-paneled ambience of Ultimate Painting’s unhurried second album from last August, Green Lanes. No coincidence there, as Spilt Milk was recorded in the home studio of James Hoare, half of Ultimate Painting (and also of Veronica Falls). Not only did he lend Astor his digs for the recording, Hoare also pitches in on backing vocals takes a turn on most every instrument. A number of other well-wishers stopped by to lend a hand, including members of Male Bonding, Hefner, Black Tambourine, and more.
Guests and all, Spilt Milk is still not an overly busy or crowded record. “There It Goes” casts its spell with a little sunset-hued slide guitar and a simple tapping beat. Songs like “The Getting There” and “Mr. Music” – all of them, really – amble endearingly with clean springing chime, observational lyricism, and a melodic sensibility smoothed but not eroded by time’s passing.