The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
With the seamless way he mixes folk, blues, soul, pop-rock, hip-hop and reggae, it's no wonder that Citizen Cope used to be a deejay (for the group Basehead). On his second solo CD, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born Clarence Greenwood splices bits of Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Bob Marley and Beck, among others, to create a fresh, genre-defying sound that shows he must have a really good record collection. Check out the way the loping, reggae-tinged "Pablo Picasso," about a man obsessed with a woman painted on a wall mural, effortlessly segues into the chilled-out jazz-pop of "My Way Home." The Memphis-born, Washington, D.C.-raised Cope gets help from Carlos Santana, whose electric guitar charges the uplifting "Son's Gonna Rise," and Me'Shell Ndegéocello, who plays bass on the achingly bluesy ballad "Sideways." Lyrically, Cope has the heart of a storyteller, poet and social critic. "Well, I'm waiting on a time/When the people walk free to see/From the penitentiary in our mind," he sings in his laid-back style on "Penitentiary." Clearly, though, there are no musical chains on Cope. —C.A.
• DOWNLOAD THIS: "Sideways"