New independent music labels and old friends provide the catalyst for this months comprehensive DaveCromwellWrites reviews. Heading down unfamiliar paths can often lead to surprisingly pleasant discoveries. At the same time, checking back in with previously covered artists whose work continues to burn at a high level confirms those original impressions. Taking all of that into consideration, we now dive in to the mid-February 2022 reviews.
Finding their way into the DaveCromwellWrites universe is Kool Kat Music label's new release “Wish I Could See” by Cheap Star. Fronted by Swiss-French musician Remi Vaissiere (who wrote, sings lead and plays guitar on all the songs) there is a distinct 'Americana/Powerpop' vibe running through it all. This is in large part due to the artists long-time relationship with seminal late 80's/early 90's Posies frontman Jon Auer. Brought in to produce and mix the record, Jon also plays a variety of guitars and keyboards on nearly all of the tracks. The Posies connection doesn't end there as respected drummer Brian Young (a member of that band during their major label years from 94-98, before moving on to The Fountains of Wayne and then The Jesus and Mary Chain) delivers outstanding percussion on every one of these new songs. The star cast doesn't end there however, with Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish) and the legendary Mitch Easter all contributing to a number of tracks. With that tantalizing introduction, what follows here is track-by-track commentary on each and every song.
There's an easy, slow shuffle groove on opening track “Lifetime,” with chiming guitar figures and prominent deep-thump drumming. Over that hypnotic pattern, Remi's sandpaper-soft vocals introduce a stream-of-conscious story recounting “looking for a sign,” being “happy as a child” alternately tempered against “love hurts” and how “you're gonna learn in your lifetime.” Precision harmonies emphasize and punctuate dramatic moments, as do additional layers of sonic enhancements that feel like strings (but could be keyboards or even extended note guitars). Follow-up cut “Flower Girl” comes on quicker right from the outset, with it's driving progression and orchestral FX'd guitars. Poetic lines surrounding the need for the songtitles subject matter, whether “in the dark” or “singing with me in the park” defines an elusive object of desire. Rhythmic changes emerge early and subsequently repeat, emphasizing a descending pattern that offsets nicely against the initial straightforward pattern. Additional lush vocal layers of “I want you” on the song's outro create one more romantic pop element.