STEPHEN CUMMINGS “Nothing To Be Frightened Of” CD

$26.00 Inc GST

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Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in clutter: objects, ideas, threads, distractions. Pop music is too, layered, tailored, highly polished. Cummings’ 20th or so solo album goes the other way, as spare and crisp as a Hemingway paragraph. Recording engineer Shane O’Mara plays electric guitar, unfussy drums, a few whisps of organ. Cummings writes the songs and sings them. And that’s enough. In other treatments, these might have been feisty rock ’n’ roll songs, or soul songs. Honeybee takes on the blues form. First In Line could have been a Sam Cooke song from ’63, with a sweet O’Mara solo that, like the material, says much with a little. It’s the only solo anywhere here. Cummings is in great voice; there is an elemental kind of force to it that is different to being merely technically powerful with some big notes to impress the judges. Van Morrison and Eric Burdon have that force too. Cummings pours it into these songs of hurt and loss. The title tune is a meditation on the artist’s life where he wonders “How many times has the light gone out?’’ Not dark yet at the Cummings house, I am pleased to report.