Catman Cohen – How I Want To Die (CD)

“How I Want to Die” is a mixture of Cookie Monster, Bon Jovi, and a Broadway singer, along fairly impressive instrumentation. I put on this disc expecting drek (like Mizar and Steve Lieberman), especially with Catman’s braying on about the “Yahweh chord” and get something that is fairly soulful and catchy. Seriously though, however, Catman needs to stop singing completely; this Cookie Monster, Barry White after 2 packs of cigarettes a day thing really needs to stop, as it does nothing to innovative or further what is actually a solid instrumental album. A track like “Wishin’ on a Star” sounds like all of the average “modern jazz” that is on the radio. Amy Court’s vocals, unlike the leader, actually fit into the scheme and plans of Cohen well, making tracks like “We Spoke of God” feel almost like the best Christian pop, even if the instrumentation on-track is a little slow.

When Catman starts off tracks like “Father You Believed”, it almost makes any gains made previously by Cohen’s instrumental side dissipate as eir entire demeanor and vocal tenor seems insincere. The emotive content of Cohen’s instrumental tracks like “Sunset In Last Vegas” rivals that of the fully tricked-out songs on “How I Want To Die”. The disc is innovative, there is no denying it – what is really exciting during “How I Want To Die” is Cohen’s burning desire to work through any constrictions (working in a pop and rock domain) and make vital, thriving music in genres that were previously thought tapped out. The Carman-esque intensity achieved during “A Prayer For America” lights up what was previously a sedate (for the most part) CD and really shows that Catman’s music knows no bounds.

There are moments during “How I Want To Die” that are amongst the most impressive snippets of music heard this year – for example, take the pseudo-rapping during “Family of One”. What really distinguishes this album from any other one is a devotion to the creation of good music, the infusion of said music with soul and a political message, and a continually revolutionary view to music that allows for a number of different sounds to be created on this disc. Cohen is Cat Stevens, Warren Zevon, Frank Zappa and a whole slew of other influential singer-songwriters in the American folk tradition. I know that not all of the music on this disc is created with a sound I will like, but I can appreciate the process that puts it on this disc.

Top Tracks: A Prayer for America, Sunset in Las Vegas

Rating: 6.9/10

Catman Cohen – How I Want To Die / 2005 Self-Released / 14 Tracks / http://www.catmancohen.com / Reviewed 05 April 2005

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