Straight out of stick figure land comes the aesthetically dissonant Bucky Cromwell… But don’t let his blunt imagery fool you. This book is nothing like its cover! Cromwell’s debut album Lie$ gracefully bridges the gap between the pop, country, singer-songwriter and funk genres to deliver its brief but unexpected helping of fresh sounds.
Brevity was certainly a disappointment in the case of this record, which is both a good and a bad thing. Records which, like this one, clock in at around half an hour live in a sort of “Twilight Zone” between EP and album. In this case, Cromwell leaves us wanting more of his signature blend, which is full of original sounds and earworms.
Percussive piano and a pleasant, distinctive drawl rope us neatly into the pop/country feel right from the get-go. “Make It Right,” like all of the other songs on this album, respects a formula with very clean, sparse layers of tightly filtered instruments above which the vocals are clearly leading the way. Artificial-sounding percussion provide almost none of the power and groove of real acoustic drums, but they also leave plenty of space for everything else to shine – an appropriate compromise in this case. As such, a sense of space pervades this and the other tracks on Lie$; in short, the mood is well set right from the start. In true pop form, each song is between three and four minutes, and respects one form or another of the conventional verse-chorus-bridge structure; no surprises there.
Blame my overabundance of rock references, but I found some similarity between Cromwell’s voice and the nasal drone of Ozzy Osbourne’s, especially in “The Devil That You Know”– although it must be said that Cromwell seems to be a better singer with more range. I also found myself comparing some of his choruses to anthem-rock– bands like Coldplay came to mind– on tracks like “None of This Is Real” and “Slave.” On “Confessions,” Cromwell takes a page from Lewis Capaldi’s book– think of “Someone You Loved.” One of the most fun tracks on this album, “Sooo High,” reminded me of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, but with an added touch of funk and without the virtuosic guitar playing.
Long story short, some reviews are easier to write than others, and the conclusion here is that we have a very talented, fresh new arrival on the scene, at a moment when country/pop and its related hybrid genres are exploding in popularity. Go listen to it!
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Chris Aitkens