Friday, November 11, 2011

ALBUM REVIEW: Cuff The Duke - Morning Comes

by Mark Gillis

So here we go, I’m reviewing another country album. I can’t say I ever thought this day would come, but here we go.

Cuff The Duke are an alt-country band and ‘Morning Comes’ is their fifth studio album. So needless to say they’ve been mainstays in the Canadian music scene for almost ten years now. This album was actually my introduction to Cuff The Duke. I think that sometimes it can be good not to have opinions of an album get bogged down by the brilliance or ineptness of a bands previous work. They recently signed to Paper Bag Records (one of my favourite labels), which made me pay attention and finally check them out. What I found on Morning Comes was really a mixed bag of results.

I think I’d call most of the songs on this album “nice”, just for lack of me being able to come up with a better word. Like most alt-country, all the songs on here are quite catchy. Most these songs also have some pretty melodies and even more pretty vocal harmonies. The problem that I’m having with this album is that I have a lot of trouble saying anything more than “it’s nice”.

In the new Elliott BROOD album that I reviewed earlier this week, I said numerous times that I loved how they kept things interesting throughout the album. I rarely felt like ideas or rhythms were overstaying their welcome. To me, it made that album feel adventurous. The problem I have with ‘Morning Comes’ is that I rarely hear any of that adventure. Throughout the whole album I only feel like I’m hearing songs that are “safe”.

When I say that these songs are “safe”, to me it speaks a lot to the emotion that I feel is put into them (or the emotion that wasn’t put into them). Basically all of these tracks plod along in their standard song structure with some kind of solo near the end, then they just wrap up and move onto the next one. I guess I just feel like this lack of variety that is showcased from song to song makes it feel like the band is just going through the motions more than anything else. I know that all the songs sound somewhat different, but not different enough for me to really take anything away from every single song.

Even though I did feel like this album was mostly devoid of emotion there were a couple of tracks on here that I really liked a lot. The songs ‘So Many Times Before’ and ‘Brightest Part Of The Sun’ kind of took it down a notch when compared to the rest of the tracks on the album. To me the slower build of these tracks really allowed the emotion to stand out in them. Singer Wayne Petti just sounds so much more wounded on both of these tracks than any others. I wish I would of heard more of these two cuts through the entire album.

To sum things up, this is an alt-country album that isn’t really going to push any boundaries at all. It’s going to just be some pretty sounding music that feels (to me at least) like it’s made more for the sake of not scaring anyone away rather than doing something creative. So if you’re a fan of alt-country, I’d say this is at least worth checking out. You might like it even though I wasn’t that huge on it, but that’s just my personal opinion.

You can follow Mark Gillis on Twitter @Mark__Gillis

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