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Citizen Cope gets socially conscious on new album

Katherine Greenspon | Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Citizen Cope, also known as Clarence Greenwood, has returned from his four-year absence with new melodies, raspy lyrics and soulful passion. His newest album, “The Rainwater LP,” is Greenwood’s first under his own label, Rainwater Recordings. In his first four albums he jumped from indie pop to reggae to R&B, and he now tries out a new soft and folk-like style.

After songs like “Let the Drummer Kick,” “Son’s Gonna Rise” and “Bullet and a Target,” it is refreshing to see Greenwood take on a fresh new start. Songs on “The Rainwater LP” have less to do with love’s hardships and more to do with personal struggles and political issues we are facing as a nation today.

Many of his new songs tackle bigger social problems. In “Lifeline,” for example, 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.” His lyrics leave listeners with a sense of truth and a door to reality through which many try to escape by listening to music. His voice lingers over every lyric, which makes listening to his music both easy and relaxing.

Some may consider this album to be a dark one, but it is nonetheless very artistic and well thought out. Greenwood has drifted from his past work and is focusing more on his rage and love for singing raw lyrics with profound meaning. One of the most popular tracks on the album is “Healing Hands,” which starts off only with Greenwood’s raspy voice and his guitar.

There is an eerie undertone to the song, but toward the end of the song lyrics like, “‘Cause the violence of a few / Have put a world in harm’s way / And history has proven that they / Killed our leaders dead,” leave fans with a lasting impression on how reality’s issues can fuse together for a brilliant and cutting-edge song. Garage drums, trumpets and his own work on the guitar makes “Healing Hands” one of the CD’s best tracks.

When Greenwood was asked why he released the album on his own label, he responded, “I don’t want to be led into those confines anymore. I want to be able to do it my own way.”
His goal is to share his music with everyone whether they like it or not. His whiny but rhythmic voice hypnotizes audiences. Greenwood worked with many musicians on this album, including drummer Paul Edwards, keyboardist James Poyser, percussionist Bashiri Johnson and guitarists Michael Neal and Preston Crump. All the songs are available on iTunes.

Overall, “Rainwater” is an enjoyable album that offers new originality and an easy listen. Casual listeners might want to skip over the serious meaning of the words, but overall, the album was amazingly thought-out and beautifully executed.