In the case of Clarence Greenwood, better known as Citizen Cope, the songwriting process owes as much to intuitiveness as it does to technique or ability. In the eight years since the Brooklyn-based (by way of Washington DC) artist's critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, he’s turned out a handful of inspired albums, with each one intended at enriching "an overall artistic statement,” he says. “And each new record will give new life to the other music. I think that’s the best you can do when you make music.”
Citizen Cope furthers that philosophy on his latest work, The Rainwater LP, issued digitally last month and in physical distribution this week. Amid a hodgepodge of sonic styles he's become known for drawing upon — everything from folk and blues to hip/hop and soul — he brings altogether fresh, to-the-bone commentary and perspective to his lyrics this time around. And underscoring the cumulative context in which he perceives his craft, he says of "Lifeline," one of the album's strongest tracks, "There’s something about that song that I don’t think I could’ve written before. I had to have written all those other songs to get to that song."
Currently on an extensive tour in support of The Rainwater LP, Citizen Cope checked in with Donald Gibson of Blogcritics Magazine to shed a bit of light on how inspiration informs his music.
How do you measure your progress as a songwriter to ensure you’re not just recycling the same things?
You just got to follow your muse, what inspires you. People will say, ‘Why don’t you write the kind of songs that were on the first record?’ with all the characters and this kind of stuff. And Clarence Greenwood was a personal journey of trying to persevere through something difficult, having there be something great on the other end. Then Every Waking Moment was more of a love record, but [it] also questioned political times. This record [The Rainwater LP] is just a real personal record.