REVIEW – John Cody Shows That Sharing Too Much is a Good Thing!

John_cody_painful_righteous_blissJohn Cody Shows That Sharing Too Much is a Good Thing!

John Cody – Painful Righteous Bliss – Duke Street Records (4.5 stars out of 5)

September 3, 2012 – There is nothing private about transparency. It doesn’t live alone. Artists who share too much are, really, no different than you and me. Of course I don’t mean this in a Lady Ga Ga kind-of-way – If someone’s dress makes you crave a cheeseburger, you’ve gone too far.

Staying within the lines, while sharing, can be safe to many but not Canadian-born, L.A.-based singer/songwriter John Cody. His self-discovery is raw and open-to-the-public. He does share too much and his audience is better because of it. There is no small talk in his musings. You will never ask him, “Yeah, but what do you really think?” It’s all there, albeit quite poetically written, for the world to peek into.

Cody doesn’t mince words or suffer fools but he’s fair, relevant and truly honest. His close friendship with Joni Mitchell helped that. “I learned a huge lesson from Joni before I started my second record,” he recalls. “I remember her asking me, what do you want to be, an artist or a craftsman? I’ll tell you what its like to be an artist. You can’t care what people think about your work, even after you’re dead, but I don’t believe in art only 14 people can appreciate either. And if you make yourself a hero in a song, you have to make yourself the anti-hero too. That dramatically changed the way I chose to write songs. I realised that if you want to make music that resonates with people you can’t lie.”

‘Painful Righteous Bliss,’ is Cody’s third album and although not as commercial as his previous two it’s much more important. The CD’s sense of responsibility and personal sacrifice is clear on the opening track, ‘You, You, You,’ a soft, moody ditty.

_MG_2746Cody says, “It does encapsulate the feeling of the entire CD for me. Love is painful when it’s selfless and emotionally honest (death of self is very hard but necessary to the process), love is righteous because it’s so sacred and almost holy, and love is bliss when it’s a love to end all loves. The kind of love that answers questions you never asked. To me, the key lyric to the title of the record is: ‘All suffering aside, I do know this; I’d rather suffer with you than have you to miss; painful, righteous, bliss.’ It’s almost a mantra or a prayer.”

With it’s gorgeous mournful tone it’s certainly a study in the fine line that separates obsession and true surrender in love.

‘Oh-Oh, Oh-Oh’ was another reminder of Cody’s amazing vocal phrasing that made me a fan with his other albums. It’s that after-thought line, not whispered but sounding like it was, almost a subliminal, under your breath message. Was it his chumming around Joni Mitchell that created it? That didn’t hurt but something tells me it’s a natural gift that was open to improvement and it did.

On ‘Tell Me What to Do’ Cody sings:

Give me a second to catch my breath
I’ve seen living and I’ve seen death
Of all these things the things that scares me most
Is not that we might cease to be
Or that we are less than energy
It’s failing you while otherwise engrossed
But fear is not a place from which to lead
And hope can lead to a madness of a certain breed
In death of self I’ve found a kind of key
That opens doors underneath floors inside of me

Though its chorus goes on to plead for direction with fists pointing from a mountaintop it’s as romantic as it is spiritual.

‘This is Us’ describes the song and dance, the cat and mouse, the fear of only appreciating when it’s past and not present. It also made me think of that old enmeshment confusion of not knowing where one ends and the other begins in a relationship, bringing the questions is too close not close at all?

On ‘Till It’s Dawn’ Cody begs for real answers, literally, asking for the temperature of the relationship, some validation that this was real and not just a pit stop to the next warm spot.

One of my favorite tunes on the album was, ‘It Just Is’

In the chorus Cody sings:

I don’t know I don’t care
Life’s not known to be fair
And you get what you give
and you learn to forgive
And it’s never enough just to say it’s enough
But it is
When it is
And it is what it is cuz it is it just is

_MG_2361You know a tune called ‘It’s Like I Live The Book of Job’ is going to get heavy but nothing quoting job comes easily. Cody examines his own suffering and the end-of-times with a Shakespearean wink. Appropriately, it’s also the rockiest song on the album.

Actress, and close friend, Sharon Stone penned the lyrics for ‘Don’t Stand Still.’ It’s a tender love song featuring Cody with only guitar in hand and a fitting close to this conceptual love journey. It softly reminds us that if you do the work, let the lessons guide you, surrender, laugh and cry a lot – it might just be worth it.

Interestingly, the album is sequenced in the order in which the songs were written. It should also be mentioned that Tom Cochrane, Bonnie Raitt, and Holly Cole have all recorded Cody’s songs. He says, “I’ve had enough success and respect in the industry that when it is time for me to do something, those doors are open.”

His deeply rich voice made me a huge fan on his debut album ‘Zelig Belmondo’ back in 1993. Cody’s words and the way he sang them helped me through one of those ‘lick-the-floor-with-pain’ break-ups. The follow-up ‘Darkness Visible,’ in 1996, served as the perfect bridge from his first album to his third – it was a deeper journey. He seemed to be singing without wearing shoes or even a safety net. Here was an artist wanting to feel the dirt between his toes and he hit it hard. ‘Painful Righteous Bliss’ is another journey into dark nights of the soul but, this time, with the rewards that come with staring down those devils who live in our shadows.

This moody, melodic masterpiece moved me via its gritty voyeuristic quality. It brought me to an honest place in my life and like any friend who shares too much it gave me validation that maybe I’m not so crazy after all. – by John Beaudin

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