I first saw Andrew Cushin live pre pandemic and I was immediately struck by the raw honest emotions in his lyrics, the purity of voice and the determination to share his stories and forge a path in music. Back then (haha a scant 2 and a bit years ago), Andrew was just teen and guitar, and I loved the raw talent in those early songs. It’s interesting to have a different perspective now Cushin has released 4 singles, and most recently, a fist full of new tracks in his debut EP You Don’t Belong with a fuller sound.
Just how far has this guy traveled? Both so very far, and yet pleasingly Cushin is not too far away from those honest gutsy roots I originally admired. I thought then that Cushin was an artist that was going to go all the way, two years on, and despite the difficulties the pandemic has presented, I still think this man is completely on target. Now signed to Strap Originals, the label should give Cushin the wide open space his talent needs. Who knows how far Andrew Cushin could push this?
There isn’t a hint of even a second of poor music on this quartet, but the favourite track for me is the lush and haunting and hurting Runaway. Cushin was apparently keen to feel under pressure to come up with a fresh banger track for the EP in an hour or so, to follow the best traditions of many an artist in the studio, and so he left a blank space until he hit the recording studio. The result, Runaway, is a unconscious stream of emotion from Cushin’s mind, and sees another classic Cushin banger emerge.
Despite being just 22, Cushin has a weary but hard view of the world, a tale of the worn survivor. Beaten but not fully defeated. I particularly appreciate how each of the Andrew Cushin tracks are mini, discrete and complete stories. I don’t mean to suggest that Andrew Cushin sounds like either Nick Cave or Johnny Cash, but there is that similar art of the story teller within.
The thought I have in my mind’s ear is of Cushin’s music being a bit stripped back and understated. I’m sure I’m not alone in that, so perhaps it was a deliberate antidote that the overall production on some of the tracks on EP is more full on and polished. There’s a push towards radio play here, and given Cushin’s vocal and style, that was always going to be the direction of travel.
I’m very much liking the heaver pace and feel to You Don’t Belong. It gives Cushin’s music a new range and edge, complete with synth, and massive drums. The lyrics remain as deep and personal as we have become used to, so please don’t think this is a milder watered down, sanitised Cushin.
What has always been particularly special with this man, is how personal and relatable Cushin’s lyrics are. You Don’t Belong perhaps hints at some of the struggle and difficulty in wearing your emotion for everyone to witness, and to bear those scars. As the chorus says: “Do you think this is easy, when I’m pulling from my heart, did you think you can keep me, when I’m broken at the start”. When someone’s writing feels totally honest and open, I know I can sometimes be guilty of forgetting that I don’t really know the individual behind the pen. The massed expectation of so many different voices must perhaps sometimes feel almost overwhelming.
Yeah Yeah Yeah is perhaps the closest to “disposable” that Cushin gets. At first glace it is a pure almost punky rocker, but an instant’s inspection shows this is much more detailed a and thoughtful than that almost Beatles “Yeah Yeah Yeah” might suggest. Rather than a “She Loves You Yeah”, this is more of a sardonic yeah. The result is a nice spiky rocker, which gives yet another facet to the jewel.
The final track on the EP is Catch Me If You Can, a thrusting pulsing marching tune with a hard heart. There’s heaps of rock swagger and huge guitar on this track. This is probably the Andrew Cushin song which most surprised me; it feels stripped back to almost original rock and roll to my ears. Cushin takes no prisoners on this track; total radio ready, but with a core of steel.
Andrew Cushin is scheduled to do an autumn tour in October in addition to a summer of festivals, playing at the likes of Leeds Brude and Manchester Gorilla. It’s a well deserved hike in venue size from his spring tour, and I suspect it really won’t be long before Cushin and his band are playing the really big stages. So, if you haven’t caught the man and his band yet without feeling lost in a big crowd, this is one of your last chances. You won’t regret it for a minute.
* Images have been taken from the artists social media