Review: Chris Cohen - "Overgrown Path"

Chris Cohen - Overgrown Path
(2012 Captured Tracks)

"Forget the Beatles. This is a real Magical Mystery Tour."

 Watch out! This could very well be the sleeper album of 2012. My first look into singer-songwriter Cohen's balmy garage rock tinted world, his debut single "Caller No. 99", seemed like nothing special. It was just a pleasant, yet forgettable taste of 60s flavored soft-rock. Surprisingly, his full length album greatly exceeded my expectations. Overgrown Path is a gripping, beautiful masterpiece that refuses to be confined to any genre. It's just pure songwriting at its finest. 

 The opening minute of opener "Monad" seems like the doorway to the mystical land of Chris Cohen. The listener is transported through a dense forest of brass, bass and assorted noise. Finally, a small beam of light becomes visible through the dark, gloomy canopy. Pressing forward, we finally get a clear glimpse at the outside world. It's beautiful. Cohen's vocals, buried snugly beneath bouncy piano and warm cozy guitars, feel like whispers in your ear. Sounding like a mix between Belle and Sebastian and something that would play in the background of an old "Sesame Street" episode. The track is undeniably perfect. As a track on it's own, it's amazing, but "Monad" is only the beginning of the 9-track journey that you'll be taking. Forget the Beatles. This is a real magical mystery tour.

 Track 2, "Solitude", lives up to its name and more. The two-and-a-half minute drone rock piece feels like Erik Satie in an echo chamber. Heavily dreamy keyboard and gentle touches of piano wrap around the listener like a security blanket. This Sigur Ros-ian track is a surefire chill inducer and the perfect rest after the challenging opener. "Rollercoaster Rider", one of the finest county fair themed songs since "Rusholme Ruffians", takes a jazzier approach than the previous tracks, leading up to a climax as tumultuous as the song's titular thrill ride, nicely accented by some gorgeous overdubbed backing vocals.

Tracks like "Heart Beat" and "Inside" could easily draw comparisons to Velvet Underground. Each song, moving at a snails pace, is accented by distorted yet sunshiny guitars. I can't stop thinking about Vince Guaraldi's score to "It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown", especially on the latter track. Sparse, soulful ballad "Open Theme" brings the album to a melancholy end with one of my favorite lines. "Passing though a frozen field/I have pushed a broken wheel." I know I said it earlier but I'll say it again. It's beautiful.

Stream here via soundcloud.