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David Cook “David Cook” (2008) November 19, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, David Cook.
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Written by Andrew

This….is American Idol, David Cook style of course. This past April, David Cook of Blue Springs, Missouri, made history by being the first “rocker” to win America’s favorite singing contest. Men like Bo Bice and Chris Daughtry had started the trend, but it was David’s powerful vocal style and creativity that slipped him into the top spot on American Idol. Now, with the help of some of the better songwriters in music, David Cook has put together his second solo album, this time backed by a corporate juggernaut, and looks to capitalize on the same success Chris Daughtry has had.

“Declaration” is the loud and exciting kick-off to what is one of the more surprising albums of the year. The song starts off with an attention-snatching guitar riff, followed by Cook’s gritty voice, which quickly escalates to a familiar volume as he screams out “It’s my declaration,” at the chorus’ peak. “Declaration” is easily the catchiest, and probably most rock-heavy track on the album, which shouldn’t be surprising considering his mastery of the Idol game involved slow, edgy covers of Michael Jackson’s (and Chris Cornell arranged) “Billie Jean” and Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby”.

The sound of the album is more clearly defined by the first single. The Cornell co-written “Light On” is a soaring power ballad in the vein of some of the older ballads of such style, things Cornell may have written himself during his stay in Soundgarden or Audioslave. Again, it’s Cook’s voice driving the song from beginning to end, whether with a low and edgy tone, or a more vocally powerful scream. Those still in desperate need of some hard-rocking numbers won’t get much help beyond this point “Bar-Ba-Sol” and “Mr. Sensitive” certainly have a grunge-esque vibe in them.

The most intense track on the album stands out as the late-in-the-disc “Permanent”. “Is this the moment when I look you in the eye, forgive my broken promise that you’ll never see me cry” are the emotional opening words of a track clearly written for Cook’s cancer-ridden brother Adam. It’s easily the most powerful song on the album in terms of lyrical quality and the passion behind Cook’s voice is unmatched by any other song in recent memory. While so many songs try to deliver inspiring messages, “Permanent” is nothing along those lines, but simply a ballad to a loved one. Of course, it helps to have Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida, a gifted songwriter in his own right, helping along with the track and a few others.

There are a few duds laying about on Cook’s self-titled endeavor. “Lie” and “I Did It For You”, two of the later track on the disc, are largely unmemorable thanks to cliche lyrics and the major lack of a hook in either song. A lot of the other songs on the album may take a listen or two to catch your attention, but these few songs in particular seem to never quite grab your ears. Thankfully, the latter of the tracks leads into a beautiful slow song by the name of “Avalanche” and then into the aforementioned “Permanent”.

Cook’s first try at a big album has plenty of substance and style to it, no doubt in large part to those who helped craft it. The previously mentioned Cornell and Maida are experienced producers and writers, but Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls fame, and Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin also aid in the process. Just name-dropping those four should be a clear indicator that Cook’s style is 90’s inspired alternative rock, a tag he wears proudly. Every song on the album, rings of that mellow but abrasive feel made popular by the aforementioned artists, but he makes the style his own with pitch-perfect voice and the ability to write some seriously catchy melodies. While Cook may not win over this generation of fans with this one, it’s certain to appease the fans of last decade’s stab at rock, which given Cook’s influences, is probably all he wanted in the first place.

The Point – Cook’s voice is obviously the focal point of the album, and he uses it well. Most songs are well-written and benefit from experienced production, but there are a few duds that simply do not work well. Cook utilizes the 90’s alt rock genre well, and doesn’t try to establish itself as a catchy modern rock record, something that should prove the Idol label does offer some freedom to it’s winners.

8 out of 10

Download This – “Permanent”

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