A Bad Think - Cottonwood - Stereo Stickman

A Bad Think Cottonwood


Singer and songwriter Michael Marquart returns under the creative moniker A Bad Think. The project’s 12th studio album Cottonwood intrigues in both title and artwork, and the storytelling plus the engaging fusion of Folk, Americana and Rock consistently maintains that appeal.

Cottonwood quickly became an enchanting pleasure to listen to at volume, and admittedly took more than a couple of run throughs to write up, but it was worth that commitment to the cause.

Ten original tracks create the new album, and the opener 10k Hours swiftly brings back memories of the pristine and immersive design of A Bad Think. Michael has a clear professionalism at the helm, allowing the evocative depth of this combination of organic guitars, drums and bass to instantly surround you.

To then weave in that raspy, breathy and humble vocal adds another piece of the puzzle, and to then consider the story and sentiments – the whole thing is finished off beautifully.

Featuring subtle twists of electronic distortion and sound-play, this album is quite the sonic sensation to experience at volume. Loaded with cascading solos and instrumental bridges, Cottonwood is fascinating and often euphoric as you let it play through.

Contrast is crucial, and Bucket List employs it brilliantly – not only in terms of what came before, but also with its mighty shift from uncertain and quiet verses to an explosive and uplifting hook. At the same time, we’re prompted to consider things more deeply – the concept of 10k Hours followed by the somewhat juxtaposed idea of a Bucket List; should we be putting in the work on a single ambition, or ticking off the numerous possibilities the world has to offer?

Highlights from Cottonwood include the delicate design, concept and delivery of Am I Ok?, the subsequent sci-fi depth and darkness of Good For Now, and the indie-rock, country to cinematic familiarity and melodic stylings of the title-track Cottonwood. The added benefit is of course the profoundly personal yet poetic storytelling interwoven amidst the progression through these.

Without You is also stunning, and a personal favourite – a new vocal dynamic with a call and response reinforcing the sheer emotional ache of the writing and Michael’s own captivating performance. The soulful guitar solo builds on that further, leaving us in a kind of alternative realm that’s artistically poignant and intimate all at once.

Then as a means of uniting all prior threads, Don’t Say A Word marks a striking closing track. Distant piano and quietly compelling vocals and lyrics pave the way for an hypnotic and deeply moving listen, which wraps up the Cottonwood journey in a manner that leaves its ideas and feelings lingering in the mind.

A Bad Think aim high but with heart and purpose, and the results provide a sense of genuine human connection – as well as the superb audio escapism of a finely built musical project.

Album out May 10th. Find A Bad Think on Facebook, YouTube & Twitter.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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