Indie singer-songwriter Curtis Peoples has gone a long way since we discovered him in 2005, shortly before he released his acoustic EP, 'Whisper to a Scream.' He has since then retooled and experimented to the deepest reaches of acoustic pop/rock starting with the lush arrangements from 'Rock Out! And Stay Awhile,' which featured Curtis alongside the mastery of Dave Yaden & The Weight. So what will Curtis do with hot producer Marshall Altman, responsible for the sounds of Marc Broussard, Kate Voegele and Chicago former Top Model-turned back-singer/songwriter Sarah VonderHaar?
The year long journey with Altman has produced Curtis' self-titled label debut, which like Curtis' self-released effort, has 10 tracks, including remakes of the Ryan Tedder co-penned 'Heart Will Fall', 'Got What I Wanted', and 'One More Time'. The album also features a song that never made it on any album by lifelong friend Tyler Hilton, 'Tell Me I'm Wrong'. The first song 'Back Where I'm Started' is a maturation process for Curtis' foray into more drum-driven upbeat pop/rock songs and while at times on his last release the upbeat songs were a bit uneven, the production and arrangement is much more airtight. The whole song will get you moving and standing up and clapping to the beat, whose sound will remind some of his fans of something Tom Petty would do.
Hit single 'Holding Me Down' is another upbeat rock ditty, showcasing some electric guitar play and showcases more of Curtis' new disposition to classic power-pop vibes. 'Tell Me I'm Wrong' is a song that failed to make any of Tyler Hilton's album and the lifelong friend of Peoples lent him the song and instead of totally rearranging the song to fit his own, he channels his good friend and you can even here Tyler doing backup vocals. Don't be surprised this song will start catapulting Curtis even higher as this song should find no problem getting placed on a myriad of television shows.
'All I Want' and 'Wake Up' are classic Curtis Peoples songs, with him on acoustic guitar and lush arrangements and beautiful lyrics. The former features a little piano while 'Wake Up' has a little hint of country, once again showing off Curtis' genre versatility.
The remakes of 'Heart Will Fall' and 'One More Time' is what makes the album go from great to good. The Ryan Tedder co-penned 'Heart Will Fall'
gets too distracting with obvious synthesization of the electric guitar licks from the original song, which sounded far much better. And the instrumental bridge further drags down the Tedder gem by getting even more heavy and you almost get the feeling that Curtis is trying to soar his voice over the heavy and unnecessary sounds surrounding such a simple song. 'Got What We Wanted' is a remake of the original 'Got What We Wanted' and that remake is actually better than the original; he takes it a half-step further and adds background vocals and if someone can tell us who is the familiar female voice doing background vocals, you might get a bonus! Then it goes back downhill with the equally overdone remake of 'One More Time' where the new drum arrangement and strings create an auditory distraction and lets your ears fall off Curtis' natural rasp and then the return of the synthesizers further erodes the song's natural spirit that was captured in the original.
The album overall outside of the to be honest disaster of a pair of remakes showed a further polishing and retooling of Curtis' sound, which has gone a long way from the simple acoustic guitars in 2005 to a far much more fuller and organic sound we hear now. But the remakes of 'Heart Will Fall' and 'One More Time' were good enough to drag down his label debut from great to good and serves a lesson that remakes can be done if they don't get overmade and in Curtis' case, it was overmade and unnecessary to add bells & whistles. But despite the major missteps, the future remains very bright for Curtis Peoples and it's high time if you haven't yet, listen to this man's music. It's full of spirit, beautiful lyrics, and beautiful arrangements.
Name: "Curtis Peoples "
Label: The Control Group
Release Date: August 19, 2008
My rating: 4.1 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head at Musiqtone. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this feedback form below.