Credit: The Peter Ulrich Collaboration

World renowned songwriter and recording artist Peter Ulrich has put his skills to the most ultimate of tests with his latest effort that has been ten years in the making.

His project, The Peter Ulrich Collaboration, is set to release the last chapter in the Painted Caravan Trilogy called Final Reflections on December 3, 2019.

Final Reflections comes after his first two well-receive efforts, The Painted Caravan and Tempus Fugitives, were released. The England native pulls out all the stops for this record, working with a ton of talented writers and performers, many of which are from the New York City region.

The 61-year-old chatted with Manhattan Digest about what fans can expect from this and so much more below.

Tell us about the upcoming Final Reflections effort.

To answer the question, I really need to put it in context. Final Reflections is the third album in a trilogy by The Peter Ulrich Collaboration (TPUC), the previous albums being The Painted Caravan and Tempus Fugitives. The collaboration has been between me, writer/producer Trebor Lloyd, some key writers and/or performers including Anne Husick, David Steele, Erin Hill, Sara Wendt, Kathy Sheppard, Sharon Hochma-Hawk, Shane Chapman, Stephanie Linn, Timothy Dark and others plus a host of wonderful musicians, largely from the New York scene but also internationally.

The project started around 10 years ago with a couple of songs done on a one-off basis, but which gave us such a buzz and received such a strong reaction that we knew we had the seeds of something we had to pursue. So, Trebor and I pretty much agreed that we would have no boundaries to the topics we would explore, the musical styles we would encompass and the range of instruments we would use. Each song was started from a totally different angle to the previous one, and with a different cast every time, but with sufficient input from the core contributors to give the project a continuity and glue that make the albums much more than compilations of isolated tracks.

Final Reflections – like its predecessors – has a wide ranging cast of performers, songs as different as “Artificial Man” which has a dark, brooding, industrial sound and “Pirate Jane” which could be described as a country-style sea shanty, featuring an instrument line-up including guitar, harmonica, steel guitar, fiddle and washboard. If you know either – or better still both – of the earlier albums, you will find Final Reflections is more of the same – or more of the different, depending on how you look at it. If you’re new to the TPUC output altogether, Final Reflections could be your starting point or your finishing point, as you choose!

Is this your favorite from The Painted Caravan Trilogy?

The short answer is “No”. Although we have produced three separate albums, I tend to view the project as a whole. It’s a collection of songs which, although I confess some degree of bias, I think is quite remarkable. It has been an ambitious project in terms of its scope, and it has been great fun sending ideas, themes, and part recordings back and forth across the Atlantic (with me and a few of the contributors in the UK, and Trebor and most of our gang in the US) and seeing what tangents things have gone off on. The earliest songs in the project remain as fresh in my mind as the most recent, and I believe we are all proud of the trilogy as a whole.

Is there a standout track that you enjoy the most?

I think much the same general answer applies here as to your previous question. However, there are particular songs within the overall project that have special resonances for me for various reasons. On Final Reflections I have a particular affection for “Artificial Man”, partly because I am really happy with the atmosphere we achieved with that piece, and partly because we created it from a very cinematic angle and then my younger daughter Ellie and her boyfriend Josh made the video for it which is on YouTube. On our first album – The Painted Caravan – I think “Pureland” is a strikingly unusual and beautiful song.

If you were looking for the ‘hit single’ from the entire project, my inclination is towards “Dark Daddy” on “Tempus Fugitives” which showcases the writing, voice and harp of Erin Hill, while “Drum The River” emerged as a particularly strong live number for TPUC. And “Hanging Man” – which appears in its original form on The Painted Caravan and remixed and remastered on Final Reflections – will always have a special place as the track that kickstarted the whole adventure.

I know you are doing something special for fans who want a piece of this before its official release in December. Can you tell us more about that?

When the album releases on December 3, the retail price for Final Reflections will be $12.98 plus shipping and handling. However prior to December 3 there will be a special pre-sale with discount price of $8.00 plus shipping & handling which can be purchased through AIS Records using this link.

The music within what you produce is insanely eclectic. Going from Middle Eastern all the way to Gaelic. What inspires this variety?

There are many sources of inspiration – the project very deliberately freed itself of all limitations. To give some specific examples…Firstly, by not being restricted to the instruments of a standard band, or even of a conventional orchestra, we were free to use any mix of instrumentation we cared to. Secondly, by approaching every song from a different angle – so some were written lyrics first, some melody first, some rhythm pattern first, and some started life as one thing and ended up somewhere completely different.

Thirdly, by listening to the widest variety of music possible and absorbing their ideas and sounds. Fourthly, by involving such a wide range of talented writers and musicians to throw as many ideas and styles into the melting pot as it would hold. And fifthly, by going on an unplanned, uninhibited journey – the first album was called The Painted Caravan because it felt like we had travelled through many different lands, feeding off the cultures we encountered, and that set the course for the entire project.

Should fans expect a tour for Final Reflections after its release?

I can’t promise anything at the moment. The TPUC show we did at Webster Hall, NYC back in June 2015 was truly one of the highlights of my life, with a 17-piece band to try to capture some essence of the variety across the albums. We had a fantastic group of musicians performing who absolutely love the project, and I think their joy and enthusiasm really shone through – we certainly got a great response from the audience. Would we like to do more of that? The gut reaction to that is a no-brainer, but the reality of putting on such a show is one of costs, logistics and blah, blah, blah…But we ain’t ruling anything out, so stay tuned……and in the meantime, please keep checking out our recorded works.