Citizen Cope – The Clarence Greenwood Recordings

Clarence “Citizen Cope” Greenwood’s descriptively titled sophomore disc is an unfortunate step-down, or at least sideways, from his promising but not spectacular self-titled debut. Greenwood’s music is an interesting hybrid between downtempo, hip hop, and reggae. He croons and half raps lyrics about our troubled times, but they are too specific to carry universal import and too unfocused not to sound a bit confused or cliched.

Greenwood has opted for a very produced sound. This lets you enjoy the quirkiness of his often-interesting instrument and style choices, but overall it’s not a wise move. The songs themselves have a loose, unfinished-in-not-necessarily-a-bad-way feeling that is choked by the lavish, artificial arrangements. If Clarence was some guy playing around in my garage I’d think he was great, but with the whole studio behind him he balances awkwardly on the edge of sounding pretentious to the point of being silly. Criticisms aside, there are some fine songs here, and it’s definitely an interesting even rewarding listen, but all in all it can’t quite outdo being average.

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