If there’s one thing I’ve noticed with songwriters and I admire most, it’s the courage they have to strip themselves down; exposing their thoughts and feelings to a capricious world while diving into a deep unknown abyss just to know that someone along the way understands that very meaning they’re trying to articulate. Deep, well-thought songs don’t come from the surface. They come from deep down with an open heart and mind that allows for poetry, melody and passion to permeate through.
An artist who never fails to wear his heart on his sleeve is David Cook, the past winner of the FOX reality show, American Idol but don’t peg him into the Idol cliché. Cook is one of the rare winners along with Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson who’s able to stand on his own two feet and found success over the years by laying his heart on the line. Lyrically and vocally, Cook is impressive and by far one of the finest musicians emerging today. It’s been about two and a half years since his platinum-selling self-titled album debuted and the wait has been worth it.
The album, titled This Loud Morning, released through RCA and 19 Records is nothing short of genius with heart and character. Releasing June 28, the album is executive produced by Matt Serletic and features tracks written and co-written by Cook along with many acclaimed songwriters, including David Hodges, Kevin Griffen, Ryan Tedder, Marti Frederiksen and Cook’s fellow bandmates, Neal Tiemann and Andy Skib.
There is definite growth in this album and you can see Cook emerge as the artist he has dreamt of. If there is an overall theme to this record, it’s the romantic concept about living a life for yourself while asleep and an inescapability of sorts where life has its own certainties and endings, whether they be in the form of a day, a dream, a relationship or life that leads to new beginnings.
That concept is quite beautifully crafted in the opening song, “Circadian”, which focuses on falling asleep and using our slumber as a tool or release from escaping the day. It’s a gorgeous track that Cook packs an emotional wallop into while dabbling with the depths of reality versus dream; an internal struggle within yourself.
The track, “Right Here With You” is a gutsy romantic love song about always being there for the one you care about no matter the obstacles and though time gets in the way and changes things, it is certain that the love shared will remain the same. As for “We Believe”, it’s another track Cook has created that tugs at the heart strings and is an uplifting sort of anthem, driven from his own personal experiences. It’s about having faith at the end of the day; a hope, that things as terrible as they can be in our lives and as down and out as we are, will eventually come to a conclusion if we only believe that tomorrow will be better than the last.
“Fade Into Me” is somewhat of a sweet sentimental ballad, full of love and meaning, escaping from the world behind you and wanting to be with someone who meshes just uncontrollably well with you. It’s tender and gorgeous. His vocals really understand the emotional value behind the song’s meaning. “Hard To Believe” is another beautifully written song focusing on the denial of a relationship ending and trying to understand the reasons behind it even though you don’t fully comprehend the “hows” and “whys”.
One of the most heartfelt tracks on the album would have to be “Take Me As I Am” which is almost a romantic plea of sorts. I’m sure at one point, every listener has wished they could convey and cry out to that certain someone they love and adore, care for, wishing and hoping they’d get that chance to prove themselves. It’s tender and sad at one point but is stunning, nonetheless. The mid-tempo track of the album is “Time Marches On” which has a jaded sort of attitude about the realities of a relationship filled with the understanding that time plays a factor in the lives we lead and paths we choose.
Cook’s current single off the record is “The Last Goodbye” which is about finally letting go in a relationship and putting it behind you even though it’s hard and never easy. Thoughts come up of the other and then there’s that stage of denial, which goes into the following track, “Paper Heart”. It’s another one of Cook’s songs that pulls on the pain and loss one experiences after a relationship ends and spotlights the emotional fragility one feels in a relationship.
“4 Letter Word” is a song that plays on the notion of the word “love” emerging in a relationship and the possibility of it being said and then spoiling what is so cherished and valued. It’s a tough feeling – when is it okay to ever say “I love you” in a relationship and Cook plays with it to the best way he can. The following track, “Goodbye To The Girl” is one of the album’s most delicate tracks, co-written by bandmates Neal Tiemann and Andy Skib. It’s a realistic ending. Not every story in life has that picture-perfect relationship and this is a culmination of the whole album’s overall tale. Cook’s vocals on this track are flawless and hold onto that understanding that when it’s time to let go, all you can do is say “goodbye”.
The last track on the record, “Rapid Eye Movement” features the lyric “this loud morning” which is the album’s title. This song leads right back into the opening song but the difference is, “Rapid Eye Movement” is about waking up from the life we dream of and have to face the actual realities head on as opposed to “Circadian”, which is about finding a life you wish for in your deep slumbers. Both songs have Cook producing striking vocals and notions of peaceful slumber and on “Rapid Eye Movement”, it seems like as much as the album has proven he’s progressed in a relationship and understands it’s over, he keeps remembering the “love” they made and it haunts him; lingering into his sleep.
In a sense, with the way this album keeps merging into each other through the first and last track, it’s reminiscent of a Groundhog Day scenario, where as much as you hit the snooze button, life’s going to play out the way it’s supposed to, in a preordained kind of way. Of course, the album is open to interpretation but it seems like the tracks between the beginning and end, focus on the evolution of a relationship, from start to finish and the realities we face when we feel the scars of our life and choices.
The most charming thing about David Cook is the way he puts out each track. His voice feels for every lyric and within every song and every melody, he’s making you feel and understand what he takes from the poetry that has been created. With these songs, it’s almost as if he has suffered through a relationship of sorts and to articulate those kinds of feelings from within himself, creating it musically, is just pure astonishment and proof of someone who’s rightfully in this industry. This is a great album, simply put and he is an inspirational songwriter who lays it all out there.
David Cook’s sophomore record, This Loud Morning releases June 28th in stores and online at digital music retailers and features 12 tracks. There is a deluxe edition also available and that includes a DVD with behind-the-scenes footage and two bonus tracks, "This Is Not The Last Time" and "Let Me Fall For You". The two bonus tracks serve as a "hope" that life continues and who knows where it will go next.
Available exclusively through the official website is the "This Quiet Night" EP which features five tracks ("The Last Goodbye", "Right Here With You", "Take Me As I Am", "Goodbye to the Girl" and "Paper Heart"). The arrangement on the acoustic EP is gorgeously created and is a delight for fans because you get to hear a raw Cook, stripped down and personable.
This isn’t your traditional album. Quite frankly, it’s by far one of the most personal records I’ve heard in a while. The whole album, from start to finish tells the story of a relationship, each one carrying their own battle and if you listen clearly to the lyrics and pay attention to the mood of the melody, you will hear a gradual tone of a life lived by one or many. It’s quite remarkable to witness and know that someone like David Cook has a profound appreciation for reaching out and relating to the audience the best way he knows how.
Stars: * * * * */5
This Loud Morning
Length of Album: 50 minutes approx.
Produced by: RCA, 19 Records
Check out these related articles about David Cook:
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