Catman Cohen,
The Catman Chronicles 1: How I Want to Die
(Keevay, 2004)

The Catman Chronicles 1: How I Want to Die is the first of a two-disc series by Catman Cohen. There is a dream that drives this project, and some of that is given voice in the songs and the passion that goes with it as he dreams of a better future. Not all of the songs have that passion or that central focus, however, and sometimes the stops on the way are rather strange.

The contrast in the voices of the singers in "How I Want to Die" build the emotions of the song, pulling out the lines that are descant. Betrayal runs through the lyrics of "The Crime of Being Me," though I can't quite piece the full scope of the story from the images given. The deep gravelly voice of Catman clashes somewhat with the smoothness of the music backing him; when the voices become smoother the parts mesh in "Wishin' on a Star."

The melody of "We Spoke of God" is smooth, and the complexity lies in lyrics that seem simple at first. As "Father You Believed" progresses, Catman's vocals merge into the song, making it easier to feel the emotions in his voice. Cascading images run through "Sunset in Las Vegas," a very focussed jazz piece. The instrumental opening to "The Mentor" connects the two, as the lyrics shift from spoken verses to sung chorus. The lyrics of "What Really Matters" should make for a good love song, but the delivery leaves them empty words.

The passion that was missing shows up in "Prayer for America" as you get a glimpse into the vision that drove this project. They go through the lyrics of "Family of One" twice, wishing for a global family. Then comes the second cover on the CD, "Can't Get You Out of My Head," and it is solid.

The music of "Where are My Soldiers?" lacks the sorrow expressed in lyrics, only picking up the mood halfway through. The music flips to sing lovingly of the city named in "Vancouver," and there is little to connect the two songs. It then flips back to explore the question in the title "Baby, am I Too Late?" which focuses on the timing of the songs.

There is an unlisted song, but it is a separate track so you don't have to wait through minutes of silence to get to it.

How I Want to Die has a distinct tendency to become strange, and some of the time that strangeness works wonders. The songs work more often than not, are strange more often than not and aren't about to be mistaken for anything else any time soon.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Paul de Bruijn

25 April 2009

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