Citizen Cope Album Review: The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (2004)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, Citizen Cope’s second album.

In green is my opinion. I am very familiar with Citizen Cope’s music and background.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He has heard some of Citizen Cope’s music before and is excited to take a closer listen to this album.

Nite Becomes Day

This grooving song begins with a piano riff reminiscent of that included in Let the Drummer Kick It, the hit single from Citizen Cope’s debut album. Because of this similarity, Nite Becomes Day is warmly familiar to those who are acquainted with Cope’s work. The way that all of the instruments mesh together to create one big head-bob makes this track an ideal album opener. The fact that Cope is singing thoughtful lyrics on top of the groove is remarkable. Nite Becomes Day is a fantastic track.

Everything in this track just sounds right. I love how Citizen Cope’s bum bah flows from start to finish. His vocals have a rap vibe to them, though he ultimately remains true to a bluesy sound by incorporating piano and simplistic guitar. I get a kind of Stevie Wonder feel from this song, which is by no means a bad thing.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is a fascinating track that feels like a full package despite its simplicity. The lyrics are both dark and cryptic, giving the song a healthy dose of intrigue. Because the meaning of the song is up to interpretation, Pablo Picasso is just as much a poem as it is a piece of music. The steady strumming and R&B-styled beat gives the song rhythm that is meant for vibing. I enjoy Pablo Picasso immensely.

I honestly thought this song would be about Picasso. I was wrong. As it turns out, Pablo Picasso is a deep track about a guy who falls in love with a lady on a billboard…I think. It is definitely a strange song. Honestly, it is sad that someone would fall in love with a famous person on a billboard, but I guess there are crazy people like that in the world. Hey, at least he appreciates the beauty of art.

My Way Home

Coming off of Pablo Picasso, My Way Home is a track that doesn’t offer anything interesting. Citizen Cope’s vocals are moreso akin to shouting than to singing. The loud instruments that blare behind Cope muddy the sound of the song, making it a release that stunts the pleasant, easy sound that this album begins with. My Way Home isn’t a song that I often opt to listen to.

My Way Home starts with a quick intro that directly connects to the previous song. I love the chords and the message Citizen Cope delivers with this track. I think he is saying that no matter what the world throws at you, fighting through it will always lead you to the brighter side. My Way Home communicates a powerful message, strengthened by the fact that it is one we all can relate to.

Son’s Gonna Rise (feat. Carlos Santana)

Son’s Gonna Rise is an anthemic track that sounds like a blend between Eminem’s Lose Yourself and Jay-Z’s Heart of the City. Son’s Gonna Rise is a song that was built for speeding down the highway. The lyrics are uplifting, the instrumental is energetic, and the guitar provided by Carlos Santana is raw. Son’s Gonna Rise is rocking.

Wow! Anytime Santana is brought into a song, you can bet it’s going to be good. Son’s Gonna Rise makes me want to get up and dance. The guitar solo is the selling point for me. It just rocks your socks off. I found my self head-bobbing to this track. We need more songs like this in today’s music.

Sideways

Undoubtedly Citizen Cope’s most popular song, Sideways may be the Ain’t No Sunshine of this generation of music. The heartbroken lyrics accented by simple chords, grooving bass, and emotional strings beckon comparison to Bill Withers’ masterpiece. Citizen Cope sings the song with passion that comes across as genuine rather than showy, selling Sideways as a song that comes from the heart. It’s hard not to love Sideways.

Finally, we arrive at a chill song on the Clarence Greenwood Recordings. Once again, Citizen Cope delivers powerful and relatable lyrics. Sideways reminds us to live, laugh, and of course, love!

Penitentiary

Penitentiary is a sinister-sounding song that is driven by a nasty piano-and-organ combo. Picture Dracula playing the piano in his empty mansion as lighting is striking. A weightier song, Penitentiary remains a solid piece of the album.

I love the slow tempo that comes with Penitentiary. It has a nice rhythm to it, as well as some more great lyrics. The lyrics urge you to free your mind and find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hurricane Waters

Hurricane Waters is a poppy R&B song. The entire song as a single unit is one that isn’t very dynamic. The verses merely float aimlessly, as if they were stranded at sea. (See what I did there)? The chorus is undoubtedly stronger than the verses, but the song still remains monotonous. Instead of progressing, the track sounds as if it is on autopilot. Some could find it boring. I simply find it to be uninspired.

We all know that I love water, but I also love hurricanes and the patterns they make before crashing onto shores. Hurricane Waters is soulful and uplifting. I love the drum beat that stays constant throughout the whole song. 

D’Artagnan’s Theme

If you would ever like to bask in your sorrows while downing a bottle of your preferred liquor, look no further. D’Artagnan’s Theme swells to an overwhelmingly emotional climax when it reaches its chorus, exploding into a cinematic sound that requires a montage with rain, crumpled love letters, and tears. Lots of tears. This song speaks. I dig this track a whole bunch.

Sweet, another chill song! Citizen Cope’s words literally leave me speechless. The guitar and piano pair well together. As I see it, this song is about war and soldiers. I absolutely love D’Artagnan’s Theme!

Bullet and a Target

Hell yes. Bullet and a Target flows like a fresh-flowing river. The strings from Sideways return, adding an emotional layer to Bullet and a Target that culminates with the strong acoustics, grooving drums, and excited clapping. The lyrics are incredibly rhythmic, working in tandem with the fast pace of the music. Bullet and a Target is a song that can amp you up, get your heart beating, and show you one heck of a time.

I get a rap/hip hop vibe from this song. What I love about Bullet and a Target is that the lyrics make sense. They’re not about drugs, sex, or money despite a hip hop feeling. In addition, the instruments sound great together. Bullet and a Target is a great song with an interesting meaning.

Fame

Fame is a chill song that throws together honking horn, sharp organ, easy drumming, and relaxed vocals. The lyrics are straightforward, certainly not as complex as others included on the album. Regardless, Fame is a satisfying song that is exactly as long as it should be, avoiding an overstayed welcome.

I am not a fan of Fame. I am struggling to understand the meaning of this song. The lyrics are weird. For example, Cope mentions Bob Marley. I’m not sure if Marley is simply mentioned for reference or if he is integral to understanding the meaning of the song. Cope also talks about the Irish folklore regarding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Was Cope high or something when he thought of this song?

Deep

Deep is a chill instrumental track. I personally find Awe, an instrumental piece from Cope’s following album, Every Waking Moment, to be more dynamic and more interesting than Deep. Nonetheless, this song is still serviceable. In the case of the Clarence Greenwood Recordings, Citizen Cope says goodbye in a humble way, closing his second album on a quiet note.

We conclude this album with Deep. I do not think any of us expected the album to end with a drum solo. Many may find this track to be stupid or lazy, but I don’t. I always appreciate when a song is solely instrumental. There are plenty of great songs that are only instrumental, from Moby Dick to The Call of Ktulu to YYZ. I would have liked for more sounds to be combined with the drums, but Deep is still a solid song. I would not have made it the last track of the album, though.Thank you, Juck, for exposing me to Citizen Cope. His music is different than what I typically listen to and I love it!

My Top 3

Pablo Picasso

Son’s Gonna Rise

Bullet and a Target

Rob’s Top 3

Son’s Gonna Rise

Sideways

Hurricane Waters

The Clarence Greenwood Recordings is a fantastic collection of songs. Of all of Cope’s albums, this is certainly his most muscular. The grooves are tight, the lyrics are excellent, and the overall sound is pure Cope. This powerful T-Bone is absolutely worth a listen. Pop it in your car and you may find that it’ll remain within the player longer than you expected.

~Juck

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2 comments on “Citizen Cope Album Review: The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (2004)

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