Cole Powell – Unfiltered Music Emissions Review

by Kevin Sellers (Originally published 09/14/14 on Music Emissions)

On the surface, Cole Powell has nestled himself in an ever-growing niche of alternative blues, a fusion of Americana roots and an upbeat pop aesthetic that continues to draw attention and acclaim. Beneath that familiar exterior, Powell shows us on his latest LP Unfiltered, with his strong variety of backing musicians, there is the essence of songwriting that many similar acts quietly ignore in favor of simple instrumentational intrigue. No such lackluster approach here, with a collection of finely penned compositions, where the cream rises easy to the top while the standards underpin the effort.

“Ballad Of A Bad Man” could be a personal anthem for Cole Powell, beginning with a shadowy chorus of potent lyrics before a rolling acoustic guitar/percussion piston begins churning out an excellent track, with Powell’s vocals smooth and crisp atop subdued and tasteful organ work. “Company” highlights the vocal abilities of guest musician Brittany D, musically weaving a gentle tapestry for her soulful, powerful performance. Repeated listens to Unfiltered leave me fascinating the simple pop beauty of “Words Like That”, with a slight lyrical twist from what the sound might otherwise dictate and a fine chorus easy to return to again and again. “Always Ever Be” is a high-tempo jam that brings more of Powell’s Americana foundation to the surface, mightily catchy. “Just For Fun” is a fine juxtaposition to the former track, a darker ballad that works off of some excellent piano work. The second half of the album isn’t as diverse, but offers memorable tracks, such as “Now That You’re Gone” and the wisely constructed closer “Fairytale Happenstance”.

Each element Cole Powell brings to his work is at least slightly unexpected, and when you lay that over a foundation that is very much tried and true, you get music that deserves to be set apart from its peers. Unfiltered doesn’t attempt to reinvent the indie alt-blues soundscape, but it certainly adds to it. Simultaneously catchy, moody and immediately and thoroughly well written, Unfiltered is a record that deserves a place in any pop-blues fusion fan’s collection.