With THE RAINWATER LP, Citizen Cope offers the clearest distillation yet of his distinct musical approach, a laidback gumbo of acoustic blues, singer/songwriter rock 'n' roll and deep soul grooves. Born Clarence Greenwood, but known to friends and fans as simply "Cope," the Brooklyn-based artist has crafted an album redolent of such classic tunesmiths as Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder – both major touchstones for his emotively penned songs. As such, it's virtually impossible to put a finger on Citizen Cope's idiosyncratically inimitable sound.
"The only way to explain my music is to say you gotta listen to it," Greenwood says. "I don't think there is any easy description of it. Somebody once said something about 'urban folk,' which I wasn't mad at."
Memphis-born, DC-raised, and now Brooklyn-based, Greenwood's musical journey began in the mid-1990s, when he first drew local acclaim for both his intimate songwriting and unique sonic fusion. His official debut album, CITIZEN COPE, was released in 2002, while THE CLARENCE GREENWOOD RECORDINGS followed two years later. The road to THE RAINWATER LP also included guest appearances on blockbuster albums by Santana and Dido, while Citizen Cope songs such as "Let The Drummer Kick" and "Bullet And A Target" have been featured in a wide array of films, television series, and advertisements. But Greenwood doesn't like to compartmentalize his work, preferring to see each effort as but one aspect of his overall oeuvre.
"A record should have the potential to be around for a while," he says. "I don't look at my records as representing just one year or whatever. It's part of the lifespan of an artist and all the records contribute to the whole."
The latest stop on the Citizen Cope trail was recorded over the course of 2009 at both Brooklyn Recording in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (obviously) and The Document Room in Malibu, with extensive periods of touring in between sessions. Like the last two records, Greenwood produced THE RAINWATER LP himself.
"The songs are just representing me as a person," Greenwood says. "Some people just want to write about love, other people just want to write about politics, but I think being conscious gives you an understanding of all kinds of things."
A remarkably charismatic live performer, Citizen Cope has been a committed road warrior, introducing his music to the people by traveling America's highways and byways, often performing in places where other major artists fear to tread.
"When you do the major cities, people come from all these other places and say, 'Come to this town,'" Greenwood says. "So the next time you tour you think, 'Okay, let's try Tulsa, Oklahoma or Oxford, Mississippi or Fayetteville, Arkansas.' It's been amazing, every year it just gets bigger and bigger."
Having taken his time readying THE RAINWATER LP, Greenwood is already plotting his next move, with plans including another Citizen Cope album or perhaps a side project with a like-minded artist whose identity remains a secret. As always, Citizen Cope follows his own individual inspiration, making music without concern for trends or fashion, believing the best way to assess his art is through the fans he meets along the way.
"Somebody once said I was the People's Champion," Greenwood says with no small pride. "I like that."