Cole’s country and folk influences are evident in the use of instruments like the pedal steel, banjo and mandolin, as well as the narrative nature of his lyrics. I must confess that’s basically the extent of my knowledge about Cole or any other pop-country-folk-ish music, so if I go ahead and say that this album is worth listening to, it’s completely without reference or comparison or expectation. And this album really is worth listening to.

Right from the start there is an attention-grabbing time signature change, at the beginning of Like A Broken Record. That track might just be my favourite song on the record, by the way; the combination of introspective lyrics, wistful melody from the pedal steel, and harmony from the background vocals would tug at anyone’s heartstrings.

One warning: Writers’ Retreat! might get stuck in your head for days. This foot-tapping feel-good tune (with harmonica included!) belies the ironic tone and wry humour of the lyrics, about a lover who’s tired of being second choice and, well, retreated from: “you crank out Another screenplay/About a writer without ideas/And her lover she pushes away when he gets too near”.

Why In The World? is a beautiful subdued tune that brings to mind late nights sitting at the window writing and journaling about life. This one grew slowly on me; while not catching my attention on first listen, it’s now the one other song that might be my favourite on the record (besides the aforementioned title track).

Other note-worthy parts of the first 6 tracks: The lyrics of The Flipside are poetic and image-laden, and If I Were A Song features intricate guitar lines for a complex compelling sound that frames the longing and ache of it all.

The second half of the album seems to be much less personal and reflective, which is probably why I like it significantly less. The closing track Double Happiness is actually bordering on tacky in my opinion.. but the rest are entertaining enough even if not particularly outstanding.

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Publication: The Power of Pop

Publication date: 25/01/11