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Cruz Contreras (from the album Cosmico on Cosmico Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Cruz Contreras’ much anticipated debut solo album doesn’t disappoint. It’s not that he’s a newcomer by any means — he’s far from it in fact. Having made his name in East Tennessee music circles — and nationwide to boot — courtesy of his decade-long stint with The Black Lillies and, previous to that, time spent backing singer, songwriter, and former spouse Robinella in her namesake CC String Band. Cosmico takes a harder edge than most of what Contreras was involved in before. Opening track “Flashing Light” is a roughshod ballad with a Stones-like edge, while the tune that follows, “Doin’ Time”, takes an equally emphatic approach, one to which Mick ’n Keef would likely nod their approval.
While certain songs are culled from obvious emotional interludes — “Stop Giving Your Heart Away” being one obvious example — a somewhat antagonistic attitude is firmly entrenched in many of these offerings. The tangled tones woven into “Call Me Crazy” adds an unease that permeates the proceedings. ‘Pleasure and pain all feel the same, Call me crazy I won’t walk away’ Contreras mutters over a stilted drum beat and some otherworldly instrumentation. It’s the most jarring encounter of the entire album, but it too affirms there’s a certain tension and tenacity imbued in the album overall.
Nevertheless, certain songs provide more of a soothing sound. “Separate Minds” comes across as an atmospheric love song, a marriage of Leonard Cohen and U2, with Cruz Contreras’ soulful croon expediting an otherwise soulful serenade. It doesn’t exactly make for a casual caress, but it provides an enchanting embrace regardless. “Let Somebody Love You” takes a Bluesy approach, a more or less straight-ahead entreaty that makes its point simply and directly. So too, “Breaking A Habit” offers a bit of compassionate counseling:
‘Never too late to break a habit
To take it for granted
The blink of an eye
Something so tragic…’
Again, the eerie ambiance adds a mild haze and a sense of inherent intrigue.
Ultimately then, credit Contreras with an auspicious debut. Cosmico actually lives up to its name. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Cruz Contreras from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Cruz Contreras website
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