At the reasonably tender age of 22, UK nonconformist Cosmo Jarvis
serves up his third album, Think Bigger
. You never know quite what to expect from Jarvis, best known to date for “Gay Pirates
“, his sweetly outré take on homosexuality. He’s a kindred spirit of the uncompromisingly gifted and underrated, of guys like Shai Halperin (a.k.a. Sweet Lights) and Robert Hacker Jessett of the U.K’s Morton Valence. He absorbs and digests musical influences at will, reinventing them as fresh and contemporary output. More than that, he retains a persona that is as unique as that adjective allows.
On this latest offering, Jarvis lands largely in mainstream, radio-friendly territory with tunes tailor-made for humming and singing. “Love This” has Paul Simon’s easy, laconic flow, and a melody you can scarcely leave behind after one listen. The rustic strings that emerge from the backing track to close the song with a repeated refrain are a masterful stroke. On the next track, “Train Downtown”, Jarvis turns in classic AOR complete with Wings-style guitar breaks. Deeper in he delves into ’60s R&B and offers shades of The Who on “Good Citizen”. He’s just as at ease with this style though as with the classic pop of “Tell Me Who To Be”.
A vein of country rock, matched by a similar lyrical sensibility, runs through the album. An affectionate cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” is included, along with ten self-penned efforts. Jarvis explores his subjects with an equal blend of simple wisdom and imagination. He can both turn in a short and disarmingly matter-of-fact eulogy to a dead girl in “Girl From My Village”, and serenade his PC’s hard drive in “Lacie” with tenderness usually reserved for womanhood (“I gotta wake you up to put you back to sleep”).
There’s hardly a dip in quality throughout this intelligent and inventive record. On “Whatever”, the album’s peak, Jarvis hits the ground running with a mandolin-driven, percussive, and irresistibly catchy tune. It’s three minutes of pop perfection, with a McCartney-esque chorus delivered in Jarvis’ transatlantic-nasal best. If the music industry were not such an uneven playing field, this song might just be No. 1 tomorrow.
Essential Tracks: “Whatever”, “Love This”