Michael Cullen’s ‘True Believer’ scratches that Tom Waits, Nick Cave itch with expertise
If you’re a fan of Tom Waits, one of the more frustrating things is the fact that in recent years he’s taken his time when it comes to releasing new music. His old music is incredible, sure, but he’s a rare artist that the older he gets, the better he’s become.
And while nobody can truly replicate his genius, Australia’s Michael P. Cullen comes awfully close.
He’s also his own artist who has carved out his own place next to some of the giants in adult alternative similar to Waits, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Ian Curtis.
If you compare Cullen to Waits and Nick Cave, another artist he often gets compared to, you’ll find his voice is a bit more rough around the edges than Cave but not quite as deep and coarse as Waits.
On his new album “True Believer,” Cullen’s gravelly gravitas grabs you right away.
And sure, he’s obviously following along the path paved by Waits and others. Thing is, though, it works for him. If you love that type of sound, as many of us do, then how can you not love getting more of it?
Some highlights on the album include “Black Dog,” “Black Coffee and Cigarettes,” and “Cha Cha Cha D’Amour.”
Not every track works as well as those three, however. The sound can come across as a little forced at times, especially on the tracks “I Walk Alone” and “Broken Horses.”
They’re not bad tracks by any means, but nothing on them really separates them from the rest, either and as a result stick a little too close to the formula.
That small complaint aside, however, by and large “True Believer” does what every good album should — it sprouts an earworm after the first listen and makes you want to return to it again and again.