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Clarence Greenwood is at it again, producing yet another completely likeable album that will translate excellently on stage. In 2010 he ditched major labels altogether and independently recorded and produced The Rainwater LP under his own label, Rainwater Recordings. One Lovely Day, his new full-length album released only two years later, is quite the feat for a solo act who puts in an average of 100 shows a year.
Many equate Cope with tracks that rip at your heart, like “Sideways” and “If There’s Love.” But this album is surprisingly uplifting, focusing on hopes and dream-worlds rather than the loss or struggle of finding and hanging onto love.
In the first track and single, which shares the album’s name, Cope sings of dancing with a girl by the river on a lovely day. It’s about as picturesque (and sappy) as you can get, but the cheese is taken down a notch simply by Cope’s nonchalant, bluesy vocals. He described the song to the Rolling Stone as “a hopeful song for those going through trouble, ’cause I know there’s a lot of trouble going on in the world right now.”
The rest of the album plays like typical Cope – a keen focus on the mixture of drums and piano below simple and soulful lyrics, inarticulate yet completely lucid and worth paying attention to. All but one song were written by Greenwood himself, and each tells a different story. Many of his tracks reminisce on earlier and simpler times, like “Back Then,” complete with Cope’s signature rhymes and laid-back tempo. “DFW” is about missing a girl at the Dallas airport and remembering times spent at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where Greenwood spent parts of his childhood. From the cover art of antique maps of the Midwest to the music itself, the album has an old Americana feel without the country twang.
The best aspect of Cope’s lyrics is that you can’t separate truth from reality, stories from dreams and made up illusions. Like “Pablo Picasso” on The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, “Peace River” tells the story of Mr. Paige, a cruel man whom he ran away from but could never rid himself of, only to meet the man once again down the road, weak and broken.
“For a Dollar” is less than two minutes but sticks with you, as Cope’s voice is vulnerable and undisguised amidst acoustic guitar. “For a dollar will you mind/Explaining to me why/Today got bought by tomorrow/For a dollar.”
The most memorable song is “A Wonder,” the second to last on the album but the catchiest. With a slight reggae feel, Cope does what he does best – sings directly to an abstract female (and thousands of lovestruck fans) about what life could be like together. “I roll 7 double down on 11/Trying to be forgiven for the sins that I committed/Love to include you in my mission.”
An uplifting album is not always what you expect from Citizen Cope, but One Lovely Day has more songs with happy endings than any other, without losing the musical style Cope fans have come to know and love.
Starting in the middle of August, Greenwood is on the road once again, promoting this new album across North America. He’ll be at Boston’s House of Blues in early November, so us fans have plenty of time to sit at home and fall in love with the tracks before belting them back live.