Michael Cullen / An Unbeliever

Michael Cullen released “True Believer” May 28th of this year.  The Australian singer songwriter creates music with hints of the 60s , 70s, and 80s – mod and rock based with hints of blues, electronica, and soul intermixed. The nine song Album is well produced.  Each track has gut and fire, the instrumentation is effective and played well.  But I couldn’t help listening to this album with little enthusiasm. I’ve heard this before by Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Morrison. And they did it better and way less contrived.

The album starts with “Black Dog”.  It sets a tone foreshadowing the songs to follow.  It’s never quite easy to articulate, to expound on but there is a difference if ever so slight between truth and imitation. Though genius artists take from other artists and people and philosophies, they make it their own. They take their experiences and include their influences to make their individual and unique sound, to tell their own unique experience.  And it’s not contrived, it’s not forced, or comfortable.  It’s innovative because it’s unique to them.  It’s not about the highest range, the biggest vocabulary, the most versatile guitar playing.  It is about truth and self exploration, about innovation and the time and effort that goes into making someone a truly crafted and gifted artist.

There’s one line which stands out in “Damaged”, the fifth track on the album.  He sings, “cause you’re bitter.”  It’s the one line I believed the most off the entire album. “Cha Cha Cha d’Amour“, the single on the album sounds like a song written in the 80s but which should have stayed in the 80s, like velour and scrunchies.  Although, maybe the joke’s on me since neither of those things did stay in the 80s. Also, what does the Cha Cha Cha d’Amour entail?

By the seventh song, “I Walk Alone” I was ready to turn the album off. It’s another song at a similar speed, in a similar key, with a similar delivery as the six that proceeded. I felt no need to listen any further.  Of course, I continued but barely.

The video for “Cha Cha Cha d’Amour” is a bit insipid.  The woman at times is compelling to watch.  But at other moments when she dances and looks at the camera she looks equal parts befuddled and lost on top of trying to be sexy.  So then it’s confusing like I’m not privy to what’s going on and why she’s upset.  And I feel bad that I’m watching her at all. But this could be an artistic choice one for which is lost on me.

Stay up to date on his website.  You can listen to the EP on Soundcloud and stay up to date on his Facebook page.


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