Friday, September 27, 2013

ALL MALE (Music) REVIEW: "Paradise" by Cody Belew

Terrible pun aside, guess what...after a complete luck of the draw I was able to acquiesce both of Cody Belew's albums thus far; Paradise being his first effort long before his tenure of The Voice S3 and What You're Looking For, the album made intended to capitalize his newfound fame from the show. ["WYLF" will have its own review in the next post.]

Paradise was his initial effort made in 2010 that until now was vaulted off from mass consumption. The intended genre was Americana/Singer Songwriter type of music.

Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.

# of tracks- 7 [Paradise is an EP {Extended Play} as opposed to an LP {Long Play}]

# of interludes- 0

Total time of album- 31:24

1. "Gypsy Spell"- Starting with a harmonica inspired fusion of Blues and Country (Without that goddamn portmanteau Grace Askew ["Lana Del Opry"] coined on S4 of The Voice) the album reveals Belew's signature singing was always consistent. The song is about him trying to woo someone to be his mattress mambo partner...err love interest. Either way, he's much to handsome to be the one longing for the other : P. Facetiousness aside, the song is good for what it is; really simple, easy listening whilst imagining walking around a town no bigger than a recycling bin. It's song that immerses the listener in his world beautifully.

2. "Sideways Lover"- Keeping in mind this is his initial effort, B.T.V. [Before The Voice], this is a really subtle track from a man who claimed to have been " elderly black lady in a past life" (His words, not mine. Remember, he knew how to give TELEVISION along with singing his ass off.) Even though it's a more subtle cut, in Belew's case his register allows subtle songs like this to showcase how soothing his voice can be if used right.

3. "Your Eyes Are Fireflies"- This is the strongest track off the EP. The thing with his fans and even some of the direction he took on The Voice, his persona is almost something to typecast him into really uptempo numbers. Ballads like "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" are actually where he shines the brightest (Remember; ballads like this song are his best; any "Bleeding Love" type crap and I'd shiv the bastard that would dare give him a song like that.) This is some of the best piano work I've ever heard in recorded music. It blends so well with his voice, that if I were emotionally unstable (Along with my just self-aware "kooky" unstable) I'd be crying at its beauty. Do I need to mention I found his voice hypnotic and soothing? Well, I did anyway.

4. "Breaking My Back"- A touch more uptempo (At least to ME, goddamnit) than the 3 previous songs, this track kind of has an "Irreplaceable Complex"* that I had no idea he was capable of...

*"Irreplaceable Complex" ;(n.)(s.)- A song with a deceptively sweet aura
whilst the singer/group in question is actually saying "FUCK the 18
generations of your ancestors!" Most common in breakup songs.*

Despite the complex, his voice seems too subdued on this song. On a technical thing, this could be in relation to the languish turned catharsis of relieving yourself of a lover who ain't shit (I sound so eloquent sometimes, it's actually motherfucking repulsive). On the other hand, I love the side of him that just goes for high notes and make The Chipmunks sound like Morgan Freeman on quaaludes by comparison. No song of his should hinder that voice, is all I'm saying (While sounding like a crazier person.)

5. Untitled- "GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL" why does this song have no title? O_o That aside, the violins [If it's violas, let me know] in this song are played beautifully. However, his voice sounds subdued in this song on technical terms as well. This time, it could reflect on the whole "falls on deaf ears" complex as it sounds like he's in a pain that's borderline consuming him. While this is a ballad, I must remind you, it's "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" type of ballads that are his strongest because they allow him to be the strong vocalist he goddamn well is. On a positive note, this does highlight his emotional connection to the songs ("Didn't he exclusively write all of these songs?" Yes, goddamn you, but that's besides the point.) This type of connection to songs is rare in new artists worth their weight. Belew is damn lucky with every musical gift he has.

6. "Love Song"- This song marks the resurgence of his blatant vocal projection. The groove of the song is really simple but enjoyable. Maybe this song/EP is something YouTube sensation, Steve Grand ["All-American Boy" & "Stay"] should take note of. By now "Your Eyes Are Fireflies" won best/strongest track, but this song is a very close silver medal. Great singing, fairly uptempo; just really easy/relatable listening music.

7. "Paradise"- This is the high concept track off of an otherwise easy listening EP. The beginning evokes the instrumental to an esoteric spaghetti western but without the tackiness of a spaghetti western. Whatever the masculine equivalent of alluring is, this song definitely displays it as his voice is breathtaking in this song. Like a male version of a Siren of Homer's Odyssey, Belew's vocals are the most consistent here as his register just exudes male allure. This ties with "Love Song" as very worthy silver medal in terms of best/strongest song of the album.

Despite how great this is, creatively this may have stunted 2010 Cody. The Voice S3 Cody had a lot more versatility and range albeit through shifting control of himself, Cee-Lo [maybe producers] and his fans [who insisted he sing "Somebody to Love" by Queen; for once: No T, No Shade]. I honestly can't help but think that if things fell his way around the time this EP was made and he was signed to a label [Maybe Captiol Records or Cherrytree Records {Interscope}] he may not have been pleased creatively. Remember, this is subjective criticism here; anything I say comes from me.
Either way, Paradise is a surprisingly immersive EP that shows that he's had talent on his side all along. With this being released for the masses along with his post Voice effort, What You're Looking For, available for purchase through (Shameless plug) maybe he'll finally have commercial pull [more or less] to back him up.

OVERALL Grade: A- given the slight irking of subdued vocals, Paradise is a well decorated invitation into a theatrical world run by the man himself.

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