Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CD review: Citizen Cope, The Rainwater LP

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 12:56 PM

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Citizen Cope’s new album, The Rainwater LP, sounds as if you're listening to it on a 33? rpm vinyl gramophone record player, the first track, "Keep Askin’," opening with that almost static noise and followed by crackles and pops that create the vintage, distorted sound flowing throughout the record.

This is what albums by Citizen Cope (a.k.a. Clarence Greenwood) do – they flow and this album is no different. What's most impressive is that although The Rainwater LP is the first studio effort by Citizen Cope in four years and his first release on his own label, RainWater Recordings, the diverse mix of sounds and Greenwood’s profound lyrics are as top notch as ever.

And I'm being modest when I say "diverse." The ingredients that create the musical brew in Citizen Cope’s latest album encompasses hip-hop, folk rock, synth groovin' funk, R&B and reggae. Throw in Greenwood’s soulful vocals and acoustic guitar work, and you've got yourself one aurally enchanting record.

Compared to previous albums, Rainwater's subject matter focuses more on societal woes -- justice

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, poverty, the corruption of power -- but subtly, as though Greenwood feels more pain than anger about it all. Songs like "The Newspaper" and "Lifeline" allude to the sometimes dark realities of the world and have a definite Beatles "Eleanor Rigby” vibe with their layers of lyrical metaphor against mellow melodies.

In "Lifeline," Greenwood sings, “Well the children still dying in the streets / The babies still living with disease / The cops got guns, the poor folks got sons / Who work for Mr. Franklin every week / If you've come looking for hard times / Hard times ain't hard to find.” You can almost see him strumming this song on a city street somewhere, his haunting voice echoing in the air as he delivers tales of urban woes. His voice is so raw and genuine, you can't help but keep listening. In songs like “I Couldn’t Explain Why” and “Healing Hands” Greenwood expresses his frustrations in a seductive, almost hypnotizing way, like he’s singing to a lover.

The album is fairly laid-back until the standout track, "Off The Ground," a soulful symphony of reggae beats with an upbeat tempo that calls to mind a seaside dance hall on a summer day. "Jericho" follows and keeps the bouncy momentum going with a synth funk-meets-hip hop pulse that throbs throughout the track.

Overall, a solid album. The artists' unmistakably unique band will always be on the playlist of my life, and The Rainwater LP has already been downloaded to the mix.

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The Rainwater LP is now available digitally; hard copies hit stores March 2. Both are self-released via RainWater Recordings.

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