CD Review of Greenland by Cracker
Cracker: Greenland
Recommended if you like
The Clash, Patti Smith Group, X
Cooking Vinyl
Cracker: Greenland

Reviewed by R. David Smola


avid Lowery is a magnificent (sardonic) bastard. His vocal phrasing is the audio equivalent of a smirk, delivered with the artist clearly laughing at you and at himself (but mostly you). Lowery offers equal amounts of affection and disdain on the things he pokes his pen and voice at. On 2003’s brilliant cover record Countrysides, the country genre is celebrated with eight raucous versions of songs written by the likes of Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam. Even though Lowery is gleefully singing the refrain for “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” you get the sense that he is bemused by the culture.

Greenland is the first work of new material by the band since the solid 2002 effort, Forever. The wait was quite worth it. Greenland drifts musically in a variety of different modes. A country vibe is captured on “Something You Ain’t Got,” “Fluffy Lucy” and “I’m So Glad She Ain’t Never Coming Back.” There is a real mellow California feel mixed with a Wallflowers sound on tracks like “I Need Better Friends,” “Darling We’re Out of Time” “Everybody Gets One For Free.” “Friends” features a keyboard-based bridge which may have been kidnapped from ‘60s psychedelic pop like Lovin’ Spoonful or Question Mark and the Mysterians. “Free” has Lowery observing (I swear I can hear that smirk):

I know that our last record
Didn’t do very well
But now we’re back on the block
With our freedom rock

“Gimme One More Chance,” a song co-written by the Counting Crows’ David Immergluck, features some excellent guitar shredding. Lowery and Cracker co-founder Johnny Hickman channel their inner Pink Floyd on “Sidi Ifni.” The six-minute track features some understated, blues-based David Gilmour-like riffing. After vocal sections are completed, the song dissolves into noise before a lone heartbeat can be heard. Floyd – New Cracker Soul style, which is very, very cool.

The only flaw on the 63-minutes-plus record is the reggae-flavored “Better Times Are Coming Our Way” which falls flat. Lowery’s vocal delivery is distinct but limited. That limitation is minimized when Cracker explores multiple soundscapes (reggae excepted). Greenland is all over the place, competent and yet sounds cohesive. Alcohol consumption (usually to excess) is always woven thematically into Cracker lyrics. I offer a toast to Greenland and look forward to the next effort. Cheers, Mr. Lowery.

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