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Reverse Psychology

by Jeff Jenkins - Stack magazine - 5 March 2012

* * * * (out of 5)

"I'm not dying," Stephen Cummings declares on his 22nd solo release. But he claims this is his penultimate album.

Maybe our master of melancholy (why isn't he in the ARIA Hall of Fame?) is worried about repeating himself. "Feels like I'm stuck in a revolving door," he sings.

But Reverse Psychology shows he's still capable of pulling a few surprises. And the closing cut, You Should Get Out More, is a neat summation of an idiosyncratic career: "I've been high and low/I've been swift and slow."

And no other Australian songwriter has been as consistently brilliant.

Reverse Psychology

by Bernard Zuel - The Sydney Morning Herald - 17 March 2012

[This was the second part of a piece that also reviewed a Lyle Lovett album]

Stephen Cummings has more than a few things in common with the diminutive Texan master, not least being smart enough to surround himself with some of the best players around. In a career that's now gone past 30 years, the Melburnian has shown himself adept at soul, pop and rockabilly, at spiky commentary and detailed narrative, and at just plain high-quality songwriting. He sings with control and, often enough, a sardonic undertone. He makes music for people who pay attention beyond the first ad break. Naturally, he doesn't make much money.

Although funny little bits of technology crop up (looped or treated voices, odd synth noises and the like) the forms are familiar and effortlessly done, even the Rolling Stones greasy rock of All Day. Stupidity is a bar-room soul tune with an after bite, the kind of song that shouldn't but really does sit comfortably alongside the sleazy honky tonk of Oooga Boooga. The Cat and the Coq and Not in My Skin exchange open skies for low-ceiling atmospheres but share a needy heart. However, both of those songs stand in the shadow of the understated, almost shimmering, ballads Through December and You Should Get Out More, which are almost quintessential Cummings in their barbed attractiveness. It's a gift.

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