Even if you don’t recognize the name Clarence Greenwood right off the bat, chances are his moniker Citizen Cope still rings a bell. This Memphis-born Texas Tech graduate first blew up in the D.C. scene at the turn of the millennium, exposing the world to Greenwood’s now-iconic self-produced style: soulful acoustic guitar chords, grizzled, confident vocals, and typically hip-hop-derived MIDI percussion for his fuller arrangements.
Save for 2004’s The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, the handle “Citizen Cope” has unabashedly been Greenwood’s brand. Yet after legends like Santana, Sheryl Crow, Richie Havens, and Eric Clapton have covered his originals, which’ve also appeared in major film and TV soundtracks, the man behind the moniker surely must’ve begun reflecting on the weight of a persona always taking precedent.
Well, at the tail end of June, The Victory March emerged, marking the first time in nearly twenty full years that Greenwood’s given name has appeared on his album artwork alongside Citizen Cope. We won’t read too much into that gesture, but would like to think that the thinning of walls between alter egos marks a renewed sense of authenticity for Citizen Cope. This quintet of fresh cuts closely follows the formulas that made us fall in love with Citizen Cope in the first place, amplified by the heightened discipline and maturity that only come after three decades of mastering one’s craft. So start the journey with the first of two title tracks and the album opener, “The Victory March”, a four-minute triumph of Greenwood’s idiosyncratic dynamics and gorgeous grit.