Michael Copeland is an indie/folk singer from Crestview, FL who recently released his debut album entitled 4th of July. It contains 15 songs that are well written but also suffer from production issues. (i.e. Copeland’s voice often clips causing digital distortion, the guitar sounds thin, etc.) Despite these issues the songs still shine through. Copeland was influenced by Andy Hull, Conor Oberst, Bob Dylan, Isaac Brock and Paul Simon, but his songs seem to veer closest to Oberst. Like early Bright Eyes’ records the songs are all acoustic and contain a fair amount of melancholy as well as thoughtful lyrics.
I have nothing against an album that features an acoustic guitar and vocals but I would be lying if I said that the album wouldn't have benefited from some more variation – drums, bass, even vocal harmonies with another singer would have added some much needed change to the lengthy album.
Copeland’s biggest strength is his lyrics and his ability to construct first-person narratives. Take for instance the title track “4th of July” in which he describes the feeling he encountered at a specific time and place. His self-deprecating lyrics on “Misunderstood” are sometimes inventive and also seem like the thoughts one would have as an angst-ridden teenager. Copeland sings “and I thought how could I ever believe that anyone sees anything in me.” To his credit Copeland blurs the line between his current thoughts, reflections and feelings and the ones he had in the past. He continues with his self-deprecating lyrics as he sings “I get so tired of falling short of almost every single thing that I do” on “Sunday Mornings Wasted.” Copeland explores being conscious of your own shortcomings quite often on this album but also delves into many other complicated themes which give the album a lot of substance.
After listening to this album it is obvious that Copeland is talented and has put a lot of heart into his songs. The one issue is it sounds very similar to early Bright Eyes material at times. The good news is Copeland is only 20 years old. Hopefully in time he can start to find a style that is uniquely his own.
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