CD Review – Overgrown Path

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Chris Cohen's Overgrown Path is an exquisitely rendered, modern-day psych-pop curio. Each of the nine songs are deeply indebted to the warmth of vintage analog sound, yet not derivative.

Cohen has an earnest, affectless delivery that comes as a welcome salve to the cynicism and ironic distance of other current “o-fi practitioners,” such as Ariel Pink (with whom Cohen has previously played), and it serves as a preferable alternative to the obscured, buried-beneath-four-layers-of-synth-wash delivery of, say, Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum.

The album’s centrepiece, “Heart Beat”, is nothing short of devastating both in the fragility of Cohen's vocal lead, and in its deceptively simple instrumental accompaniment. The song blooms serenely out from its humble acoustic beginnings, with Cohen repeatedly intoning, “And I wonder/Can I hear the heart beat?/Tell me if the heart beats/if the heart beats”.

I've played "Rollercoaster Rider" probably 30 times over several days – its chorus is the closest aural equivalent I've ever encountered to the adrenaline-fueled zeniths of an actual ride on a roller coaster.                

Throughout, Cohen revisits these classic textures and makes them his own, imbuing them with both his own touch as a skilled multi-instrumentalist – he played every instrument on the album – as well as his simple, yet commanding vocal presence. He reminds us that, when we borrow from the past, it need not be with an eye to pastiche or posture, but rather to simple and genuine craft and expression.

Joel Blechinger
Contributor

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