Us (Remastered)

Us (Remastered)

Six years after the blockbuster success of the multi-platinum So, Peter Gabriel returned in 1992—somewhat less commercially minded, but no less sophisticated—with his sixth studio album, Us. It was recorded in his state-of-the-art Real World Studios, featured an extensive roster of musicians, and demonstrated Gabriel’s seemingly limitless appetite for pan-global rhythms and textures. But the elaborate sound of Us belies the lyrical content of the singer’s most open and confessional album. As its title implies, Us is the album in which Gabriel reaches out for love and connection, exploring his urges and desires over prismatic arrangements. Gabriel explores his emotions after a tumultuous period: His first marriage ended after more than 15 years, leading to a new relationship with actress Rosanna Arquette, as well as a brief romance with Sinead O’Connor (who lends her gorgeous, crystalline voice to “Come Talk to Me” and the vulnerable duet “Blood of Eden”). “Come Talk to Me” is one of Gabriel’s most exposed moments, a plea to his teenage daughter, with whom he’d had trouble communicating after the divorce. Elsewhere on Us, tracks like “Love to Be Loved,” “Blood of Eden,” and “Secret World” all explore the nature of romantic love with Gabriel’s masterful balance of the grandiose and the intimate. But despite the deeply personal subject matter, the arrangements explode in grandiose colors, thanks to co-producer Daniel Lanois, Senegal’s Babacar Faye Drummers, the vocals of Moscow’s Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, and the reedy sounds of bagpipes and the Armenian duduk. Following the runaway success of “Sledgehammer,” Gabriel was back to his horn-soaked tricks on the single “Steam,” another slice of Stax-style R&B that ended up being a Top 40 hit. The cheeky come-on “Kiss That Frog,” meanwhile, gets its groove from drum programming, synth bass, and a loop of London’s Adzido Pan African Dance Ensemble. And the single “Digging in the Dirt” has a powerful pulse, courtesy of the rubbery bass by longtime Gabriel low-end Tony Levin. Emerging from self-reflections from recent therapy sessions, the song finds Gabriel exploring his shadowy side and his thoughtful side all at once. A chart success worldwide, Us would be followed by the ambitious Secret World Tour, a lengthy road trip that culminated in a headlining performance at Woodstock ’94. He wouldn’t return with a proper follow-up until nearly a decade later, leaving Us as his sole album of the 1990s. But it spent those years as a prime example of Gabriel as diarist, hitmaker, global unifier, and ambitious studio visionary.

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