By Eric Thom
Just as coin collecting promises a thrill in searching for, and finding, something rare to call your own, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection 2 offers the exact same experience.
1. What A Waste Of An Echo
2. Kingdom Weather
3. Green Tires
4. Out Of Focus
5. The Three Magnets
6. Betwixt And Between
7. Cold Damp Valley
8. That Same Day Departure
Essex-based Spencer Cullum is one of those most-heard-artists-you-never-knew. Growing up in a musical household, absorbing his parents’ varied tastes, he gravitated towards the sounds of Fairport Convention, Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, before finding his voice in the pedal steel guitar of heroes like Pete Drake and Sonny Curtis.
Mentored by London’s own B.J. Cole, he rubbed shoulders with touring U.S. acts, eventually moving stateside with his brother Jeff to join up with Detroit’s Deadstring Brothers. Heeding Nashville’s call, Cullum’s skills on his chosen instrument teamed him with Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town and Caitlin Rose – his creative circle growing as fast as fresh ideas.
The theme of creating ‘something new from something borrowed’ has cemented itself in Cullum’s genetic makeup, with the release of his first solo recording, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection, finding him moving away from the supportive, out-of-the-spotlight role afforded by the pedal steel and into a more public space – furthering a panoply of sounds and instrumentation to reveal countless influences.
Where his solo debut introduced his singing voice, Coin Collection 2 moves things further afar in its fascination with eclecticism, utilizing even more instruments, rhythms, and pitches to arrive at a near-baroque state.
Less than comfortable under the singer’s spotlight, Cullum supplements his plaintive vocals with the support of more able singers like Rose and Erin Rae to lend a slightly sweet and/or sour effect to tracks like ‘Betwixt and Between’ and ‘That Same Day Departure’.
‘What A Waste of An Echo’ is deserving of quality headphones to follow and fully appreciate its delicate wash of subtle sounds; it’s stark piano accompaniment and rudimentary drumbeat are embellished with wah-wah guitar, flute and synthesizer, as Cullum’s soft-spoken voice (think barely-caffeinated Nick Drake) is ghosted by Dana Gavanski’s artful delivery, revealing a rustic rural atmosphere that’s under the influence of mid-period King Crimson.
The flute and clarinet of Jim Hoke and Adam Bednarik’s delectable bass playing dominate this pleasing landscape, as pedal steel and any semblance of country music seem a distant afterthought. ‘Kingdom Weather’ – celebrating little more than a nice day – features collaborative layers of deft instrumentation: stunning-sounding guitar from Sean Thompson is weaved between flute, drums, walking bass, pedal steel and clarinet, as each dance behind Cullum’s genial murmurings and Yuma Abe’s native Japanese lyricism, painting a picture of bucolic bliss.
Call it pastoral psychedelia, austere folk-rock, whatever you want. Just as coin collecting promises a thrill in searching for, and finding, something rare to call your own, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection 2 offers the exact same experience.
Spencer Cullum's 2023 album, Spencer Cullum's Coin Collection 2, is released April 14th via Full Time Hobby.
For more country albums released in 2023 and their release dates, see below: