Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Cookie Rabinowitz - Four Eyed Soul

The old adage holds that you can’t judge a book by its cover and, in the case of rising artist Cookie Rabinowitz, that’s doubly true. For, if you were to just glance at Rabinowitz with music in mind, you might be tempted to see his hipster jeans, oversized pimp glasses, and kicking Vans and label him as some sort of electronica wizard. Yet, one listen to the artist’s debut, Four Eyed Soul, and listeners will realize that this is a singer who’s a little less Moby and a lot more Marvin Gaye.

But Rabinowitz didn’t start in the world of soul, R&B, and hip-hop. Rather, the eclectic artist began his journey as “an introspective folk singer with reclusive tendencies.” Yet, when finances became an issue, the artist found himself working at a gentlemen’s club as a DJ where he became entranced with the beat-heavy music and swarthy hooks, drawing him into a new creative space.

Along that journey, Rabinowitz came alongside hip-hop pioneer Schoolly D who helped to mentor the young artist. The tandem worked together with guitarist Erik Horvitz on the animated urban music interview show, The Cookie Rabinowitz Show, which later led to Rabinowitz heading out with Schoolly D and a plethora of other rappers, with Public Enemy among them, on a tour that would change the artist’s trajectory forever.

“The hip-hop community really embraced me. It was eye opening. Schoolly let me do my thing and shine – I was able to sing and play guitar at 3,000 capacity venues,” he recalls. “That inspired me to dive into that world.”
That inspiration and the artist’s creativity collide in full harmony on Four Eyed Soul, a term the artist coined to describe his blend of sounds which borrows the best of the old while bringing it firmly into the future with swells of hip-hop, soul, R&B, as well as rock. And backed by some of Philly’s finest, Rabinowitz steps out and makes some lovely music.

“Sing Alone, Sing Along” gets things off to a killer start, a smooth, funky groove carrying forth the artist’s silky vocals, complete with playful falsetto while he offers up introspective thoughts about the lack of disconnect in a digital age. A rich guitar solo provides some additional color while “Crakka Smile” employs some sweet keyboards and more falsetto to hammer home its message.
“Every St.” lets Rabinowitz’s hip-hop side out a bit, his lyrical flow solid while the arrangement draws from a multiplicity of ranges and is followed by “Life on Mars,” carrying similar tones complete with some sampling and vinyl scratches, providing some bonus texture. Rich funk steps to the forefront on “Pass You By,” vintage guitar effects in use alongside thumping bass notes and bright keyboards while “Text You With My Mouth” lets a persistent beat carry the load as the artist again implicates the age of social media.

“Get Yer Own” is a beat-centric hip-hop jam, a collection of sonic textures merging together while “Blue” hearkens back to 70s soul for a commentary on racial tension. A bit of alternative rock makes its way into the set list with “Underground,” the programmed beats melding with raw guitars and Rabinowitz’s nuanced vocals as “Self Loathing” and “Rock & Roll Karaoke” again bridge the gap between soul, R&B, and hip-hop, the artist again breaking out his falsetto for the high notes.
“More Tired Than Lonely” is an album highlight, solo guitar opening things up as the artist sings of his reluctance to enter into a relationship due to the finger-pointing and baggage he’s experienced, “too tired to take the blame, too tired to hear you told me.” It’s a smooth, simple groove that carries the lyric well and definitely stands out while “Talking to Pigeons” closes things out in fine fashion, another mash up of genres flowing together in sweet success.

Cookie Rabinowitz might not be what you’d expect when you first see him but after you hear him you wouldn’t want anything else. Bridging the gap between multiple urban genres and infusing his own introspective folk leanings, the artist successfully crafts tracks that carry their own sense of soul for a new generation.

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