He has an impressive back catalogue of self- and label-released records, was included in an anti-folk compilation by Adam Green and contributed a track to an Oscar-nominated film. Turner Cody lives in Queens, New York, and looks like he moved there straight out of an old Western. After half a year on soundcloud, what he calls his fifth album “Last of the Big Time Spenders” is being released by Boy Scout Recordings on 6th May.
This time around, he went for fewer instruments and more attention to detail. There is more space for subtlety, laid-back vocals and intricate fingerpicking on nylon-string guitars.
The album makes itself at home from the very beginning. Even after a day spent indoors, the first track “Better Days” feels like coming in from the cold, to a simple promise: “Well, I won’t let you down / And I won’t mess around / There will be better days / Better days will come” The animated video for this song, by Steven Mertens and Chris Tucci, is a similarly uplifting (and beautifully odd) feel-good treat.
Curiously, quite a few of the following songs are existential meanderings rather than treaties of hope. As the zoetrope gains momentum, scenes of girls “trading faces with a scoundrel”, “suicidal middle schoolers” and “shadows by the pier” flicker, float and then slowly replace each other in songs such as “Everyone and No One” and “A Guy Who Isn’t Home”. Despite an allusion to “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” in “Is This all There Is”, the album feels like there was a portrait of Leonard Cohen rather than one of Bob Dylan on Cody’s bedroom wall during the writing process. Perhaps because of the calmness in his storytelling and the occasional female backing vocals.
Among the more linear and secretly optimistic songs of beautiful days, short absences and reliable companions, “I Know How I Feel about You” stands out. Based on a straightforward lyrical structure of opposites, it soars in touchingly sure-footed affection.
As the zoetrope winds down by Brooklyn Bridge, the place to watch the “World Go Rolling By”, you may feel like you have spent a decade chilling out with Turner Cody. And yet the journey only lasted 31 minutes. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the album shares its title with a Billy Joel song. In which not money but time is the object: “I’m the last of the big time spenders / ‘Cause I’ve been spending time on you.” For time is what Turner Cody is offering, although, paradoxically, on his shortest record to date.
Review by: Anne Malewski
Last of the Big Time Spenders is released on Boy Scout Recordings on May 6th