A.C. Cotton’s debut album, Half Way Down, starts off on a good note with a mellow, acoustic number that claims…
“You know, I’m gonna change my name to cotton,
Move down to the south,
Love you like nobody’s ever known”
But those 45 seconds of thoughtful minimalism are shot to hell when the amplifiers are turned on and the “rock” kicks in on track two.
Apparently, Alan Charing, the frontman and primary songwriter for A.C. Cotton, has been a busy man. In addition to releasing two solo albums, Charing also fronted the Alan Charing Conspiracy, which has now morphed into the band known as A.C. Cotton.
I’m sure Mr. Charing is kept tied up writing new material for the various bands sporting his name, but he might like to take a minute to keep his publicist in check. I mean, I have a couple of one-sheets in front of me that praise the guy up and down. I also have a CD and a booklet for said CD in front of me, but his wonderful PR firm failed to include anything whatsoever with a track listing for the album. It’s a little difficult to approach reviewing an album without such information at my disposal, and I imagine that I might have gone out of my way to track it down if the album had merited such action. But it doesn’t.
Half Way Down isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just taxingly mediocre. Basic, country-influenced rock tunes with some decent vocal melodies running over the top of it all. At times, it brings to mind the worst of Tom Petty, or perhaps the best of the Black Crowes. But A.C. Cotton’s press would lead one to believe that it isn’t necessarily the music that is intended to impress the listener, but rather, Charing’s lyrics.
Straight from the promo material sent with the CD: “It is those lyrics that critics keep coming back to, comparing Alan to the master wordsmith himself, Bob Dylan”. If one were going to make such a grand comparison, I would think it important to have something to back up that sort of claim. It might be helpful to have some of those impressive lyrics actually printed in the liner notes, but instead we’re treated to five pages of color photgraphs featuring Charing and crew “rocking out” in the studio. I’ll let that speak for itself.
It isn’t that Charing can’t pull this off. His voice is good enough—a nice throaty crooning—and the guy can definitely lift the right melodies from the right records. Half Way Down just comes off as an uninspired effort. A.C. Cotton sounds like the bar band that pops up in every little town and sets it on fire. Almost there, but not quite. As far as Charing’s lyrical genius goes, I’ll leave the books open on that one. Without anything to substantiate his talent, I’m not about to make the assumption. Better luck next time.
// Notes from the Road
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