CD REVIEW: Catman Cohen - How I Want to Die
By JJ Biener - 11/22/2005 - 12:38 PM EST
Artist: Catman Cohen
Album: How I Want to Die
How I Want To Die
Catman Cohen is a force of nature. His CD How I Want To Die is one of the most emotionally powerful works I have come across in a long time. His heart and spirit infuse each song and each song pulls you inexorably into the world of the Catman. The world of the Catman is not always a comfortable place to be, but it is always honest and it is always real. It is a place I will choose to return to many times in the future.
Musically, this CD is difficult to place in a single genre. The best comparison I can think of is to combine Leonard Cohen with Enigma mixed with a little Dead Can Dance. The Catman has a unique voice both figuratively and literally. His singing voice is little more than a rough growl. His songwriting voice is raw emotion crafted into small, concise phrases of poetry. The two are remarkable well suited to each other.
The recording owes much of its success to the talents of Henry Iglesias and James Lum. They produced, arranged, engineered and mixed the tracks. Iglesias also sang many of the vocals and contributed the keyboard and acoustic guitar work. Lum contributed guitar and bass work. They take the Catmanís songs and give them form and substance. Many other vocalists also lend their talents to the effort all to good effect.
The CD opens with the title track, How I Want To Die. It is an expression of the desire to save the children of the world from the horrors that abound, and if necessary to die in service to that cause. All of us feel pain in seeing images of children suffering. All of us wish we had the power to save them from their situations. Catman takes those feelings and distills them into a work that should resonate within each of us.
The Crime of Being Me is a song of betrayal and ultimately forgiveness. It expresses the pain that occurs when two lives forged together by lifeís harsh realities are torn apart by the actions of one of them. But from that pain comes strength. And from strength comes forgiveness.
When I was a kid, my friends and I would stare up at the stars and wonder about God and the nature of the universe. We Spoke of God speaks to that experience. It asks the questions most of us have asked, and expresses the emotions we felt when contemplating the great unknown. It does so far more artfully than we did all those summers ago, but through this song, I relive those days.
When speaking of universal themes, Baby, Am I Too Late? is a songwriterís song, especially for songwriters who are no longer young. As a songwriter and musician, I often ask myself if I am too old to do the things I want to in music. The music industry certainly projects the image that youth sells. Catman reminds us that 20 years ago we couldnít write the songs we write today. Experience is a vital element of art, and it should never be discounted.
No review would be complete without mentioning A Prayer for America. This song encompasses much of who the Catman is and what he hopes to accomplish. The song is something of a prayer that we as a country and a society change the path we are on and reexamine our values. Instead of obsessing over Michael Jackson and Pam Anderson, we should celebrate the real heroes: the nurses, the firefighters, the soldiers, the police, etc. We should value those who do good in world instead of those who have celebrity but no substance. The Catman isnít preaching to us. He is communicating his profound belief, and as such he succeeds.
How I Want To Die is not a CD to be taken lightly. It is deep, raw, and emotional. I would not recommend it if you are looking for something to raise your spirits, but if you are in a contemplative mood, this could be just the ticket. If any of this has sparked an interest for you, I recommend you check out his website, www.catmancohen.com. He has some music samples, lyrics and ordering information. There is also information about Catmanís latest CD, How I Want To Live. I hope at some point I get to review that one as well.
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