Curtis Peoples is not your average musician. Curtis has a sound that stands apart from most of his kind including touring buddies Tyler Hilton (who co-wrote a song on his current album being reviewed here), Josh Kelley, Tony Lucca, Ernie Halter, Todd Carey. The list really does just keep going from there.
Curtis delivers on not only great song writing but also an incredible stage presence. Having had the chance to see Curtis live on numerous occasions I am always in for a treat. His ability to mix long learned guitar skills with a passion for the way his voice resonates off the mic stand makes anyone want to beg for one more song. Curtis has what some have coined a “coffee shop arena rock” sound. And that could not be more true.
Curtis’s first full length album, ‘Curtis Peoples’, delivers on so many levels. When I first heard this album I had no idea what to expect. I had heard numerous tracks from his collection as well as some covers here and there, and it was what I considered to be a real crap shoot. But when I first heard the album all the way through I was far from disappointed. I would honestly put this album up as one of the best albums of the year across the board. It is rare for me to start talking about that this early in the year (I post a yearly top ten albums of the year that usually provides for rave reviews and sometimes mass controversy) but I have faith in this album to withstand anything that comes out in the next few months.
Curtis, a San Diego native, has made a home for himself (and a mighty comfortable one at that). Sit back with this album and enjoy a Beatles infused Tom Petty mixture of classic rock modern day pop. Each track is so diverse and well written in it’s own right that I can barely do it justice here.
The album starts off right where you think it will with an immediate guitar lick and some dirty lyrics about a previous lover. “Fooled around on me this time. Fooled around for the last time” gets our foot moving in an almost record setting pace. This song, like I will say about nearly every one on the album, can be found on every local radio station, any Adam Broady feature film, or I would go as far as saying any Disney channel theme song. When you first look at the album cover you can sense some sort of pain behind his 80’s rock and roll look. His voice, his lyrics, and his tone backs it up with every ounce of intention. Toward the end of the song you get a dash of progression for an extremely well placed ending to this kick-off track. Hearing this first does nothing but get me excited for what is next.
Let us not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. ‘Holding Me Down’ comes in as track number 2. Having just seen Curtis on tour with Keaton Simons I had the chance to see Keaton play guitar for Curtis. This is a perfect song for Keaton and his solo skills and Curtis’s ‘eye closing passion’ in his voice. One thing that you can already notice in his songwriting is the stories that formulate behind each track. He means every word he says. I think this is one of the reasons why this album is so successful to me. About half way through you get that inspired guitar solo only to be taken right back into some soft spoken Curtis. This is a perfect placement for a back down. The song finished just as strong as it started and prepares you for just another roller coaster ride.
‘Tell Me I’m Wrong’ comes in right there after with an almost blues start. You will notice, after listening to this album a few times, that you will continue to tap your foot and learn the lyrics to sing right along very easily. “But I think there’s somewhere better that she belongs,” is such a genius line. The basis of this song actually hits pretty near to home with me because of a recent relationship I was in. It is almost Curtis wrote this song with me in mind! I can just imagine myself holding a lighter high watching Curtis sway back and forth at any given summer time concert. Close your eyes at the end of this and sense the true power behind the lyrics coupled with the severity in his voice.
Coming to the next track, ‘All I Want’, Curtis drops it down a notch. I can not say this enough about his writing. I truly feel that if these are from real world experiences that Curtis has been through enough for us all. “All I want is you. I have waited for forever to say the things that we both know are true.” I mean, if it comes down to it, I just might call Curtis to write my vows. His words speak straight to the lover in all of us. Curtis names The Beatles as a major influence (maybe the tattoo on his arm is proof enough) and you can sense that in a lot of his tracks. They are way more upbeat and more popular (in terms of the sound you get from his instruments) but you can hear them behind his inspiration.
Perhaps one of the better written songs on the entire album, ‘Wake Up’ comes in next. Staying on the slow route he manages to grab you from the collar and pull you into this track. He picks it up early on in the track, but still leaving you a ‘last dance’ kind of feel. When I hear this track all I can picture is watching Grey’s Anatomy and the drama that pours out every week up in Seattle. This is one thing that I truly enjoy about Curtis is his ability to serenade you with soft tones but turn around and rock your socks off with heavy guitars and a rock and roll under tone.
And here is my point. ‘Heart Will Fall’ brings Curtis right back in your face with an upbeat sound. This album has a very romantic quality to it. It rings of heartbreak and a sense triumph over loves obvious powers. “Risk it up to live it up,” is just one more nail in the coffin of his abilities.
‘Counting on Disaster’, the next track on this well rounded album, sets up a solid progression on backing keys. I feel myself getting close on the couch cuddling with my chosen one as the third stage of this track brings me closer to the expected ending. There is no one word to describe the quality of Curtis and his writing. I feel a little bit of Bon Jovi coming out of some of these slower tracks. It gives an almost ballad feel while keeping you under five minutes like the 80’s hair bands used to thrive on.
My toes are in the sand and a margarita is in my hand when ‘Got What We Wanted’ starts. There is not a beach that I have ever been on that I would not love to have this coming from my iPod. This track feels like something you could listen to over and over again and come graduation day you just expect it to be playing as you drive away for the last time. I will be interviewing Curtis later this week (make sure you look or the interview here at www.indyconcerts.com) and I will be asking him his inspiration behind these tracks. I am so excited to be able to share his thoughts with you after you have heard this album.
‘One More Time’ is one of the tracks that I can see Curtis singing at every show until the end of his playing days. The under tones of this track make me just want to hug the person closest to me. “We close our eyes, we close our eyes, we close our eyes screaming out one more time,” leads you right into the heart of this track. It reminds me of a song released by Eagle Eye Cherry back in the day. Who can name that song? 5 bonus points to the first person to nail this one!
The last track could not wrap up such a well balanced album as ‘Exit Scene’ does. You are treated to one more story as you let Curtis ta
ke you home. “She just needed to go. She just needed to know.” I have said it once, but I will say it again, close your eyes and imagine Curtis playing right in front of you. Curtis makes his way to Indianapolis quite a bit, and will be here with Tony Lucca, Ernie Halter, and Todd Carey on the 5th of November at Birdy’s Bar & Grill. It is a show with combined talents and incredible music.
Curtis has out done himself and I can not listen to this album enough. He has been a good friend of mine for quite some time and the more I hear his music, the more I learn about him, and the more I see of his talent as a writer and musician there is nothing stopping a guy with this kind of talent.
Enjoy this because a talent like this does not come along very often.