Review Summary: smiles for everyone
Peter CottonTale is exactly what he sounds like. Equal parts producer and pianist, his music sounds incredibly hopeful, almost to a fault. This is music for walking through the light, dreaming in the shade, singing on the beach. From the opening track, "Do Your Thing" and its accompanying skit, his debut album CATCH
is a powerful, fun-filled gospel, equal parts pastor and performer, organ and MPC. There's a great flow to it, and flow is the key word here - it drips and pours from track to track, to the point where he could have feasibly referred to pretty much any group of songs here as a suite and I wouldn't have given it a second thought. It makes sense that he didn't though, since this is so down to earth, despite being so focused on what lies above. Choral sing-along anthems like "When I Get There" are just so enjoyable it's difficult not to smile, and following it up with a mellow vocal-layering Jamila Woods feature is a stroke of genius. The production is great, too. It sounds like the Social Experiment learned how to cool off on the more extra aspects of their sound and mix them into something that more accurately represents happiness - part celebration, part peace.
"You're my favorite song, your melodies are strong," sings the hook to "Forever Always," the biggest single, ideally because it showcases some of the best aspects of the album, but probably thanks to the Chance feature. Speaking of which, there are good odds you won't relate to much of this if you don't believe in God. Or if you're not happy, like, all the time. Or if you're not in effortless eternal love. It's the same problem Chance and his idol Kanye face - overly joyful music that alienates much of its audience. There's a difference between them and Peter, though. CottonTale (birth name Wilkins) has taken the intense feelings of his inspirations and created a journey much more palatable for average people. Sure, there's song titles like "SAUL/PAUL" that might seem to reveal an awkwardly spiritual project, but they actually betray a further complexity to Peter's humanity besides just Christian and cheerful. Lyrics vary in quality, often a bit preachy, but memorable, humorous, and easy enough to ignore if that's something that's helpful for you. Even songs just screaming with gospel energy like "Feels Like Church" or "Pray For Real" are not overbearing. And while the mood is set on high, there are lows here, relatively speaking - it's not a party that lasts too long or a dogmatic hypocrisy (yes this is better than The Big Day
and Jesus is King
). This is not privileged "happiness is a choice :)" nonsense, it's just lighthearted and romantic and religious. And that's ok. These are all moods real people go through, and that is what music is for.
Music like this is for the moments the sun shines through your window when you decide to get up after that long day on the bed, when you come back from your shower and feel ready to go even though you've been standing up, for when your finally get that text back after you'd given up. It's for the times you feel God again, for the times you feel loved again, for the times you feel yourself again. Maybe not everyone has those moments, so it's okay if it's not for you. But there are many people who do have them, so it makes sense that people are making albums for those moods, even if they won't get as many fans as works with more universally applicable feelings. To listen to CATCH
itself, you should be ready for a soundtrack for your mood boosts, looking for happy music by someone who feels like he's not faking it and won't leave until you aren't either. And even if that's not what you're looking for, you can try it anyway, and see what it's like for someone else. In any case, I'm glad Peter has gotten his feet wet making his special brand of music, and I hope someday he steps in and swims for us.