Turner Cody and the Soldiers of Love – Friends In High Places
Musically, the songs on this CD tap into an old-fashioned vintage sound much the same as recent Bob Dylan originals. The playing has cool expertise, melancholy vocals supported by atmospheric nostalgic strains on guitar & drums. While Tom Waits visits graveyards, carnivals, run-down motels, strip joints, empty houses & burlesque palaces, & Leonard Cohen courts Parisian girls, beautiful losers & Chelsea Hotel drifters. NY veteran singer-songwriter Turner Cody (vocals/guitar) turns toward a Truman Capote-John Fante-Jack Kerouac ambiance. You can almost imagine he took a Greyhound with a cardboard suitcase to faraway places on the Mickey Newbury-Guy Clark Highway.
Each set of Turner Cody’s lyrics are vignettes, but instead of writing on regular bond paper, Cody must use flypaper so his words stick. All based on country-folk with nods to the old French cabaret style of songwriting – chansons, & noir movies Cody lyrically is above average than most who work those streets.
The 11-track, 37-minute CD Friends In High Places (Capitane Records/Drops June 4) — recorded in Brussels, Belgium.
Mr. Cody’s compelling without being pompous. His way with words skates along in a more simplistic manner, unlike Leonard Cohen’s clever wordplay, or Shane McGowan’s biting whiskey edge. It’s no matter. Townes van Zandt would like Mr. Cody. I’m certain.
Some songs may need repeated listens. I guess what’s at issue is that the music is stuck in an archaic musical field. But, hey – unorthodox worked for Tom Waits. This has substance. Cody does possess a unique Chuck E. Weiss type of lyrical chemistry. There’s plenty of cleverness in each song. “Mr. Wrong,” with its treated vocals & distant shallow echo is enticing. The guitar almost sounds like a Chinese melody line. It’s what makes the tune far from ordinary.
While not possessing a strong voice Cody isn’t the standard valium-induced angst-ridden vocalist so popular today. Cody has country-folk authenticity dipped in a maudlin manner like the late David Blue & recent Eric Andersen. Surrounded by excellent yesteryear guitar picking on nearly every song that alone indeed adds color. “Telling Stories,” is superb.
There are disparate musical traditions spread throughout. For the most part, they work. What I like about Cody — he obviously feels words are just as important as the music & performance. Musicians: Nicholas Michaux (Guitar/Wurlitzer/Organ), Ted Clark (Bass), Clement Nourry (Guitar), Morgan Vigilante (Drums) & Yannick Dupont (Vibraphone – “The Beginning” & “Mr. Wrong”).
This is a stylistically rich CD with inspired melodies. The old touch makes it charming. There are no rockers, or Steve Earle fuel, or Springsteen over-emoting. The emphasis is on the lyric & how it’s woven with the melody & performed. Cody’s vocal at times (“Nothing But Regrets”) sounds as creatively articulate as a mid-70s singer-songwriter Michael Dinner (“Tom Thumb the Dreamer,” & “The Great Pretender”).
Produced by Nicholas Michaux. Lyric insert included. Available @ Bandcamp & https://turnercody.com/