You can call Citizen Cope, AKA Clarence Greenwood, by many names, though laidback hipster comes to mind. His newest release, The Rainwater LP, is respectable in its own right, but I was also undeniably impressed by Cope's decision to produce the record himself and release it as an independent album from his own pet-project, Rainwater Recordings.
Most artists don't have a choice of which record label will foot the bill for production and promotion of a new record, but Cope has had a long and relatively lucrative track record with Capital and Arista/RCA records who gladly would have sponsored this album. Cope is the pinnacle of what it means to be an indie artist in the sense that he chooses to be. It's easy to identify oneself as an independent artist when the true circumstances are that you are waiting and hoping for one of the big 4 to pluck you from the ether, clean you up and throw you in a studio. Cope has options yet chooses creative control over financial success, and I bow in respect to him for it.
The album itself is delightfully anachronistic, pulling blues, acoustic and alternative elements together in a steady, if not gloomy, fashion. There is a powerful blues infusion in to the contemporary ambiance that Cope has displayed in his past albums.
Consistent with the rest of his discography, we hear Cope's trademark grainy drawl as the center feature of the album. Even the undeniably upbeat songs like Off The Ground carry an aura of hollow lament: “All my life been gambling times, been evading mines, away from here.“
Songs like The Newspaper carry heavy themes of anti-institution, and quite possi
bly this whole album is a delicate protest album – a hail for the hopeless. The album is delightfully ambiguous, devoid of explicit storytelling and instead, seems to be an inner monologue where any listener can identify congruences with situations in their own life.
I'm not saddened by this album, though. Cope elicits tepid emotions of alienation, loss, but eventually hope – the album is the antidote to it's own poison. Instrumentation is solid and throughout every song there is a heavy cadence of situation and resolve – lyrical antiphony of sorts.
The album is a soundtrack to life in the sense that it is neither holistically uplifting or saddening, only a timeline of alternation between the two. I would not play this album in the car on the way to somewhere exciting, nor would I stick it on repeat during a tough break-up lament; the album transcends an overall theme in exchange for something very real, organic, and human.
Pretentious Approval: Solid sound, mature vocals and quality song-writing. This is great music for a rainy day.
Bitter Disappointment: Not necessarily pick-me-up music. It's a bit of a downer, but I'm not vengeful about it.
Verdict: It's mellow, high quality and overall a great record. Buy The Rainwater LP and you'll support an artist who truly understands the benefits of being “indie”.