Normally, when I hear high, crisp, clean vocals, bright guitar
licks and unfettered pop music cranked up, I can flail around
a room like a moshed-up madman with the best of them, never
caring where a familiar riff came from or what inspired a
certain lyrical "train of thought". Often, I'll admire a particular
artist for their choice of artist's to imitate. I especially
love a humorous application of some well-known riff. All the
while, keeping in mind, that some imitation is not as subtle
as other imitation. Imitation IS the highest form of flattery
and "everyone's doing it". There is plenty of clean, clear,
actually well produced pop rock on this album. Unfortunately,
Michael Carpenter borrows a bit too heavily from those
Beach Bums (he even does a cover of "You Need A Mess
Of Help To Stand Alone") and that bug group, the Beatles.
In advertising, there's something called "differentiation"
of products, when a company might be selling, letís say, soap.
The challenge for the marketing team is to find a niche for
their product. Realize that it's just soap, product that appears
on (most) every bathroom counter in America, and it presents
quite a marketing challenge. The question is how will they
"distance" their product from the other "like choices" on
the supermarket shelf? This is where "Hopefulness" loses hope
and misses the point of making an album in the first place.
(Unless of course, as rumor would have it, this is a theme
album based on Michaelís relationship and ensuing marriage
and is intended as a musical celebration of that union. And,
by the way, how sweet, congrats.) Michael Carpenter does nothing
on this disk to "differentiate" his product. As hard as it
may be...Michael...bring your hands down...slowly...step away
from the Revolver.
With lines like I'm feeling something, what it is though,
I don't know or Is this love I'm feeling?, is my heart
revealin'? Ė whoa...careful not to dig too deep for a
NEW way to express one's emotional fountain of angst! I mean,
how many times have we heard that line and subsequent delivery?
(I might have glossed over the line with the word "revealin'"
but to shorten "revealing" to "revealin' just for the sake
of prose, well, that's going just too damn far! I cannot,
with a clear conscience, let THAT go...)
There's a very fine line in Pop Music that teeters between
new and used. Borrow the best, invent the rest. Everyone borrows,
they just do it in a more "clandestine" way than is offered
on this album. With this "POPPY" of an approach, there has
to be invention, but I don't hear it. Let's just say that
this album does nothing to advance the genre. Good Pop DOES
reflect what's gone on before it. But this stuff is "so reflective"
that it's hard to wrap any love around it. (With all due respect
to the lovely MRS. Carpenter's opinion and all the "wonderfulness"
I'm sure she finds here...)
The overall feeling one gets is that it might be best for
Mr. Carpenter to lock himself in a basement for a couple years
and listen to nothing but John Coltrane. (Might I suggest
Giant Steps-- 1959 Rhino Records.) Carpenter may be
a very talented songwriter who obviously knows how to work
in the studio. But all the slick, well done production can't
stop me from thinking, "who's he imitating now?" And all that
"retrospection" becomes a bothersome fly buzzing around throughout
On a positive note, Michael Carpenter has an interesting
voice, and command of it. The mix is tight, and for what it
is, it shows a potential beyond what perhaps the first listen
will inspire. I was going to complement track eight, "You
Won't See" on it's originality, but then it started sounding
like Tom Petty. That track was followed by a lot of
"Faith" in Joe Walsh, and nearly a direct spin-off
of the "Hot Blooded" intro riff, had Joe sat in with
Foreigner and done the studio work (drunk of course).
Perhaps the strongest tune on the disk (the hidden track number
12...triiiiicky...) IS the REAL cover song, a nice, simply
understated application of country twang and blues rock on
Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World ". I guess in many ways,
some of the tunes would be memorable, kind of, well, memorable
in a "Tomorrow Never Knows" sort of way...
I guess it wasn't that much of a surprise then, that five
months after "Hopefulness" came out, Carpenter released an
album called "Songs' Of Other People". Now THAT'S what I'm
talking about, honesty in music! This is the kind of honesty
that any great relationship builds its foundation on. Good
luck with the whole "marriage thing" you guys! Maybe the next
release should just be, you know, just between "family and
friends." Keep it real!
- Kailee Anne
- Believes Again
- Is This Love I'm Feeling?
- Love So Strong
- Since I Found You
- You Won't See
- Never Be Alone
- You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone
- Wonderful World (pretend this one's hidden)
in the webboard
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