I was contacted by a random kid last May about checking out his show. I couldn’t make it to the show but he sent me an album to review and that’s how my obsession with Cullah began. (Check out the review one his other albums ‘Spectacullah’ HERE!) Fast forward to just a couple of weeks (okay, months) ago and I was contact by Cullah again about his new album. I was stoked. ‘Spectacullah’ had become that album I put on when I didn’t know what else to listen to and it always hit the spot. Although this new album ‘Cullahtivation’ has been sitting on my desk for some time, this morning was one of those mornings where I couldn’t tell what kind of mood I was in so I unwrapped the CD, put it into my stereo, hit play, and waited for whatever creative journey I was about to go on.
“Cullahtivation Revelation” kicks this album off in the most perfect way. Drama and creativity instantly took over my house. The track kicks off with an angelic line of music before Cullah’s soothing voice comes in. Kind of loungey, this song prepped me for the journey I was about to go on with this album. Kind of like a movie, Cullah introduces the executive producers on the album before the song fades out and gives way to “Falling”.
“Falling” is a very whimsical song. It’s playful and refuses to be put in any genre other than the genre that can only be called “Cullah”. Cullah’s voice radiates over simplistic sounding instrumentation and a steady drum beat while little diddies cascade up and down in the forefront. Towards the end of the song, you are introduced to the magic that is the range of Cullah’s voice. A stunning range without ever sounding strained, there are moments towards the end of this song where it’s impossible to not get goosebumps. Those goosebumps continue as the almost operatic “Runaway” takes over. Cullah’s voice changes completely but still stays in the realm that he has created and only he can pull off. This song gives musical vibes off. It’s just so dramatic and flawless but clearly tells a story. Even when the beat comes in, there’s still something so beautifuly powerful about this track.
Following “Runaway” is “A Trying Shame” which kicks off with a simplistic but beautiful piano part before evolving into a groove, almost jazzy, beat. The distorted vocals almost mimic the sound of a trumpet creating a very chill and easy going feeling to the track. It’s the kind of song you put on when you’re walking down a busy street and just want to pretend like you’re all alone and, for a song to give you that feeling, is powerful. A little rap just pushes you further into this feeling of calmness and chillness. As someone who has been anxious as all get out since this whole pandemic thing, this was the perfect song for me to listen to on repeat a couple of times just to calm down and feel some sense of peace that I haven’t felt in some time.
“The Forgotten Song” brings a folk aspect to this album that is infectious. Think Mumford & Sons with a little more soul and a little less sell out. This is another track that truly shows off Cullah’s voice along with his cretivity. Going from the almost hip-hop inspired “A Trying Shame” to this more folky “The Forgotten Song” is one of the reasons Cullah is t the top of my list and has been since I was introduced to him. That innovation continues with “Elegy” which has an almost chain gang feel to it. At just over a minute, this is the shortest track on the album which is a bit of a shame because of how innovative and intriguing it is. That being said, the way this tack cleanses your palette before the album moves on is kind of genius at the same time.
The spacey sound that starts off “No Matter What You Do” is a bit of a shock coming after “Elegy” but not a surprising element of a Cullah album to me. After a spacey intro, the beat drops and another groovy song takes over. Seemless transitions from a little jazzy rap to a trumpet solo to a more intense and in your face styled rap just proves the innovation behind Cullah and all of the musicians and contributors on this album. Just when I started really getting behind this rap motif that Cullah had going, the album goes back to this bluegrassy indie vibe with “The Woodlouse”. Very twangy, very southern, very William Elliot Whitmore, although this wasn’t the most exciting track on the album, there’s something about it that I just couldn’t get enough of.
“Chuckling Duckling” kept with the indie bluegrass vibe and brought a smile to my face. Although I really like Cullah for his hip-hop and rap influences that ran rampant in ‘Spectacullah’, I was quickly falling in love with this more indie bluegrass sound that seems to be all over ‘Cullahtivation’. If things were normal right now and we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I would probably be driving home from the grocery store right now and listening to “Live From Here” on Minnesota Public Radio. That’s what this track reminded me of and to say it was perfect and almost like a sign I was meant to review this album this morning would be an understatement.
There’s something a bit creepy about the intro into “Not Naught”. It starts off with just an eerie bassline before a very Beck feel takes over. Groovy and all over the place as far as genre goes, this was another favorite of mine. If there was one track on this album that I could play you to explain Cullah’s sound, it would probably be this one. Although it doesn’t have the bluegrass vibe that seems more prominent in this album than the last one I reviewed, it showcases the creativity and ingenuity that made me fall in love with Cullah the first time around.
Just when I thought I had heard it all from Cullah on this album, “As Above, So Below” takes over and sends 80’s vibes through my house with the electronic instrumentation while Cullah’s voice keeps this feeling a bit Dave Matthews Band. A smile instantly took over my face as I listened to this song again, and again, and again, and… you get it. This is a feel good song that I will be keeping in my back pocket for the rougher days in my future. “You might as well go with it.” Those words are so simple but the way Cullah says them in such a carefree way while the beat stays steady behind the words makes this more of a mantra than just a string of words.
Closing out the album is “Parietals” which starts off as sounding like just a bunch of noise kind of like someone flipping through radio channels with an old school dial before the beat kicks in and Cullah’s voice preaches through the air. The perfect closing to a perfect album, I just sat in awe at the end of the tracks thinking, “My God, Cullah has done it again!”
I don’t know how Cullah got my e-mail in the first place but I am so thankful to have the connection. What a creative spirit and truly talented musician and songwriter. Cheers to many more amazing albums Cullah!
My Favorite Track(s): “A Trying Shame”; “Not Naught”; “As Above, So Below”
For Fans Of: Innovation, Surprises, Creativity, Genius
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right under my feet; Autumn kept trying to contribute to this blog but walking across my keyboard
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.4 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.1 out of 10
Check Out Cullah Here:
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