Music

Citizen Cope: One Lovely Day

Like his previous releases, Cope takes the helm as an aural mixologist much more so than a virtuoso musician.


Citizen Cope

One Lovely Day

Label: Rainwater
US Release Date: 2012-07-17
Amazon
iTunes

Not too long ago, independent bands used to pine for contracts with major record labels. Nowadays, recording artists who used to be on major labels are going independent. This maneuvering toward independent status might’ve sounded like career suicide a decade ago, but that’s exactly what Brooklyn-based Citizen Cope has done since his fourth studio album, 2010’s The Rainwater LP. His latest release, One Lovely Day, is proof that musicians need not be starving artists if they go the independent route. When I spoke to Citizen Cope a few shows into his tour promoting his latest release, he insisted that the move to being an independent artist didn’t mean he wasn’t trying to “cut any corners". Although a first listen will confirm that corners weren’t cut with regard to production, the fat is most certainly absent on the record, as the 10-song collection clocks in around 35 minutes in length -- a move that makes for a very focused record, one that is sure to please longtime and new fans alike.

The album’s title track was to be recorded by Chuck Brown before the late singer passed away earlier this year. Although the version here is offered with a string accompaniment, it’s hard not to wonder how the mood of the song would’ve shifted in the hands of Brown, a man that Citizen Cope called a “big mentor” to him over the years. Cope’s version here is nicely arranged, but it’s a bit over-produced to be considered the album’s best track. It’s a fine tune for a bright summer day, but it won’t be song listeners put on repeat for any length of time.

For those who are drawn to Cope’s reggae-tinged sound, there’s plenty of that here, too. “Something to Believe In” and “A Wonder” come the closest to marrying reggae and hip-hop, but those acquainted with his music will know that this isn’t a particularly novel combination for Cope. As one might expect, the vast majority of One Lovely Day is familiar territory, confirming that Cope’s artistry is found not so much in inventing something radically new, but in refining and arranging various genres. Like his previous releases, Cope takes the helm as an aural mixologist much more so than a virtuoso musician. Although he succeeds at his craft throughout the album, the attempts here are less daring than on previous releases.

It’s no surprise that the best tracks on One Lovely Day channel the spirit of the songs that made Cope popular almost a decade ago. “DFW”, a break-up song (or maybe one about traveling far away from a woman) rests on a mild funk (and highly-mixed) bass line accompanied by Cope’s usual palm-muted guitar. The song, whose name is presumably inspired by the Dallas Fort-Worth airport, proves yet again that Cope can do quite a lot with just a few words (the line “I had to say goodbye to my baby today” gets repeated with startlingly nice results) and a rather simple melody.

There are also a few ballads on the record that are notable. Cope, who told me he writes most of his songs on guitar, found room to include “For a Dollar", a stripped-down ballad with subtle politically motivated lyrical content using only vocals and acoustic guitar. “Southern Nights", a song that ends with Cope wishing he “could stop this world from fighting", is a beautiful tune that also features only piano, guitar and vocals, proving that the singer-songwriter doesn’t need to push the envelope with regard to genre or complex instrumentation in order to reap substantial rewards. The songs that make up the second half of the album are touching without being sappy and show that there is plenty left in Cope’s tank should he pursue an acoustic record (a project he told me he plans to record when he’s finished touring for his One Lovely Day).

Although the strings, subtly placed samples and varied instrumentation throughout One Lovely Day make for a calmer and more adult-contemporary sound compared to his previous releases, there is a strong correlation between fast tempos and the quality of song on the album. This isn’t to say that the more deliberate, slower songs are throwaways, but it’s obvious that Cope is at his best when there’s a sense of urgency in his voice.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.