After being a part of the local music scene for years, sounds like the British-born, Seattle-based artist Paul Cogley is much more comfortable with his own solo releases. With his second record “Deep Blue Sky” out, Cogley experiments with lots of sounds and moods as well as personal and touching subjects that we all relate to, I believe we all need this record as Cogley described “Deep Blue Sky” as
“a guidebook on how to redeem yourself in this crazy world where we have all lost the plot a little.”
So, let’s dig deeper into it,
The record opens with an open sound and bright melodies on “Mr. Spaceman”. I loved its classic progressive/art rock approach that’s strongly present in its fluid mellow melodies and multi-layered structure. “What If It Were You” instantly became one of my favorites with its smooth fading-in intro, beautiful guitar tone, atmospheric synth, and unique bassline. It has bluesy melodies with a smooth organic progression topped by Paul Cogley’s warm deep voice that makes you want to listen more. “Lament” comes next with a simple structure and loads of emotions, its melancholic acoustic arpeggios will definitely hit a chord and make you reflect on many things. “Longing” picks up with “Lament’s” mood with a bigger sound and layering mixing synths with some Knopfler-style expressive guitar work and Cogley’s vocals. With a groovy upbeat melody comes “The Flimflam” shaking the dynamics of the record right at the perfect point. Its jazzy drums and groovy bass made it a super fun tune and I loved how improvisational the guitars sounded as he kept freely throwing licks and melodies here and there. Paul Cogley’s narrative vocal melody perfectly matched the open sound and dark melodies of “Everything Changes”. It has a subtle smooth flow of melodies that Cogley smartly used to express a sad story about modern-day relationship struggles in a way that he made the listener feel that heartache through his music. With a spacey intro “A Million Miles Away” starts showing Paul Cogley’s skills in experimenting with electronic elements. It keeps on progressing while keeping up with its mysterious vibes with a dark layer of anticipation added by the simple bow and string stroke. Cogley starts introducing new melodies and instruments slowly and neatly as we move forward in a subtle sense that gave the song an organic progression that just carries you effortlessly. “Who’s Keeping Score” steers the dynamics into a slower more heartfelt area once again but, in a totally different way. Its swaying percussions and bass mixed with violins and violas’ strong emotional melodies created a unique sound twist adding new elements to the “Deep Blue Sky” experience. There’s no better way to start a song called “Russian Doll” than the sound of a ballerina music box. “Russian Doll” has an overall uplifting mood with its escalating dynamics and sound that keeps on getting bigger and more open with every turn. “All The Love Inside” brings back the classic rock sound, the building-up intro takes us into a mellow verse that twists into a groovy catchy chorus, and towards the end, all this gets mashed up with atmospheric synths giving it a smooth perfect outro. “Pebble” is a fun tune with playful melodies and colorful sounds, adding a new flavor to the mix. Ends the record on a high note is the beautifully atmospheric “Epitaph”. It’s a simply structured piece with some well-written guitars and well-arranged and layered effects that sets the mood perfectly creating a melancholic piece that’s worthy of its name.
Paul Cogley’s “Deep Blue Sky” is a sound journey that you don’t want to miss. His unique mix of old-school progressive rock with electronic elements and synths while experimenting with new instruments shows a lot of character and creativity. It is a solid well-written and well-structured record that can easily get into your albums of the year list. Looking forward to more from Cogley, cheers!