My Mind’s Projection
A Potpourri of Radio-Friendly Rootsy Familiarity.
On this, his second release Australian Brad Cox has expressed a desire to take his music “to the next level locally and internationally.”
With “My Mind’s Projection” he’s developed an accessible yet gritty sound which could help him do just that.
Opener “Hold Me Back” is a dobro and banjo Chris Stapletonesque prison ballad stomper, that’s not afraid to throw in the odd naughty swear word, and it places Cox firmly in the soulful loud-guitar-driven side of the Country spectrum.
“Drinking Season” a lively rocky tune with some impressive slide and lead breaks, treads well-worn lyrical territory and is aimed squarely at mainstream radio; but ultimately doesn’t really offer much new to Nu-Country’s normal tales of beer, summer, trucks and girls, girls, girls.
Track three “Short Lived Love” is one of a few tracks on the album that are very reminiscent of other tunes – in this case, the feel and tone which starts things off is very much in the mode of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, before shifting into epic anthemic Nu-Country mode and back again.
Fellow countryman Adam Eckersley joins Brad on vocals on “Remedy”, with a largely spare arrangement that shows off both voices well in a swelling ballad that draws in instruments one at a time as the song builds into a Prince-flavoured grandiose love ballad.
Title track “My Mind’s Projection” develops from a mid-paced handclap opening, into a Memphis horn soul stomper and shares musical territory with the likes of Nathaniel Rateliff – a few of the tracks on the album also use horns and do it rather well.
As mentioned earlier, there are a few tracks that are quite reminiscent in part to other songs – “Wasted Time” has an acoustic guitar chord sequence running through it that is very Paul Kelly/Oasis (and several others) , it’s one of the less bombastic tunes on the album and is definitely one of the catchiest and a personal favourite for those reasons.
I dare anyone to listen to “Thought I Knew Love” and not see its clear musical kinship to Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” – from the rimshot snare to the organ swells, they’re clearly kissing cousins.
Lyrically, Cox isn’t in the Springsteen league though and generic tales of rambling, bars and loud guitars unfortunately eventually sound rather bland.
“Give Me Tonight” is more inoffensive, but largely unremarkable stadium singalong AOR.
“I Keep Driving” is a stock road and rambling life of a musician song – nicely performed and delivered as a chug-and-singalong stop-starter, but again it’s a path (pardon the parallel metaphor) that’s been well-travelled. The more intriguingly titled “Caught In a Noose by a Stranger” musically is a skulking, sinister swampy vocal and guitar tour-de-force, that although suffering from some cliched lyrical rhyming couplets, shows some glimpses of a darker poetic side that is most welcome.
“I Still Want More” is a brave title to end the album on, and in its mixture of Southern Soul horns and vocal restraint from hitting the big chorus until it’s really needed – it ties things up in a way that does Brad Cox a lot of favours. In mining the quieter, Southern Country-Soul vein his musical voice rings out more truly.
Finding the balance between popular appeal and maintaining a streak of rootsy uniqueness is a tricky one. On this album, there’s a lyrical naivete that doesn’t quite live up to the same level as the superb playing and vocals. Brad’s only a young man – on the basis of this release, with a few more years of heartbreak and developing his lyrical craft, he’s going to be one to watch out for.