Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! Today, Jules Stewart will share all her feels about Keys, the latest album release from Cristina Cooper.
Cristina Cooper's newest album, Keys, is an incredibly honest and intimate look into her emotional journey from the past 25 years. This collection of songs, some of which were written over 20 years ago, is an open journal, chronicling moments from tender insecurity and heartache to bold declarations of love and dignity. Keys was released independently on November 28th, 2020.
Though it’s hard to use the term “silver lining” about any part of 2020, the slower pace of life for many artists who are accustomed to busy gigging schedules has allowed unique introspection and time for projects that have been pushed aside. Cooper used the time to revisit songs from her catalogue that she had never shared with the world. This collection of songs, along with five beautiful musical interludes, became Keys. It seems clear that these songs had been kept private not for lack of quality, but because of the vulnerability it takes to share such deeply personal and introspective work.
Cooper's choice of stripped down instrumentation and subtle production perfectly compliment the intimate nature of these songs. Perhaps the most elegant example of this is seen in “Come Back to Me” where the vocals are given space to breathe and soar over a steady piano rhythm and gentle synth swells. The vocals are consistently stirring and excellent throughout the album but are showcased perhaps most of all on “The Bar” with its impressive, expressive runs and complementary harmonies.
Cooper played every instrument and part on the album with the exception of the violin on “Long Road”, played masterfully by Evan Price. If that isn’t impressive enough, she also engineered, produced, and mixed the album herself in her own home studio. Her musical mastery is apparent but not ostentatious; every note seems to have purpose and serves the message of her songs ideally from the gentle guitar in “Wake Up” to the anchoring bass in “I Miss You When I Sleep”.
All in all, Keys is a phenomenally beautiful, emotionally vulnerable endeavor. Cooper's full range of artistic and technical talents are on display from songwriting to multi-instrument performance to engineering and production. The emotional candor and heartfelt lyrics of the songs shine brightly from start to finish and provide ample space for catharsis and connection for listeners. While we’re not done savoring Keys, we’re already looking forward to Cooper's next project, an instrumental mood music album. Stay tuned!
Listen to Keys:
Spotify - Apple Music - Tidal - Amazon Music - YouTube - Pandora - YouTube Music
Image description: White background with black vertical text on left side that reads: "boss ladies." At center is the artwork for Cristina Cooper's album (see above for description). Layered on top of photograph is a yellow circle with black text that reads: "artist Cristina Cooper. album Keys. reviewed by Jules Stewart."
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