Listening to The Gulf Between Us, Washington, D.C.-area Craig Cummings’ fifth album (and first to reach my ears) was a surprise.
Based on the cover art and liner picture, I was expecting…well, I’m not sure—someone a bit grizzled? A gnarly, whiskey-soaked voice? Songs about dust and horses?
Instead, I was listening to a crystal-clear voiced troubadour, more pop than gravel. A pleasing introduction, then.
For this EP/mini-album, Cummings has elected to present seven songs that “explore the barriers that keep us apart.” Given the last six or so years, one isn’t surprised then to encounter songs about the human impact of immigration policies (“Momma and Me,” “The Southern Wall”) and the challenges of the pandemic (“Safe.”) Poverty and economic disparity are brought to the forefront within “Like Thieves,” another song of great social and political import, as Ms Janis once said.
He also examines personal impacts of loss (“Living Without You”) and a failed relationship (“Sleeping Alone”) and his observational songs are quite pleasing to the ear; singing as “I” allows us to better feel Cummings’ investment in those inhabiting his songs. Cummings doesn’t mince words (“…for no good reason, just to be mean” he sings in “Momma and Me,” while elsewhere he describes “the gulf between us is strewn with suspicion and fear.”)
The arrangements offer a bit of spice with Brian Simms’ accordion appearing selectively, and djembe from Wall Matthews on “Like Thieves.” The drumming of Andy Hamburger works well throughout the album, and Gantt Kusher provides accompanying bass and guitars in addition to Cummings’ acoustic; the guitar playing on the title track is exceptional, and there is a lick in the song’s coda that makes me smile each time I hear it.
If you appreciate a bit of gloss with your folk music, Craig Cummings’s The Gulf Between Us should appeal. RIYL Stephen Fearing, Peter Cooper/Eric Brace, Murray McLauchlan, Eliza Gilkyson.
A bit late on this one. I can’t locate video clips for any of the songs. Sorry. Thank you for visiting Fervor Coulee. I hope you are finding music of interest.