Eamon Fogarty :: I Am The Cosmos (Chris Bell)

There are intricate mechanisms at work inside the songs of Eamon Fogarty’s Blue Values. Recorded in Long Beach in the days following the 2016 election, the songs of Fogarty’s opus train their eyes on heavy questions: How might we destroy ourselves? What are our bodies for? Where do our souls end up? Would we even recognize paradise if we somehow stumbled upon it?

It’s a remarkable piece of art-pop, exhibiting the low slung ease of Tim Buckley’s jazz-rock, the shambolic grace of Beck, the progressive grandeur of Scott Walker, and the mystic yearning of Talk Talk. Produced and mixed by Chris Schlarb of Psychic Temple, the album finds Fogarty joined by a cast of players contributing woodwinds, percussion, and vibraphone. It’s an album reflective of an ever-changing landscape, a set of songs emboldened by ambiguity. “It’s nothing like the map here,” Fogarty sings on “Utopia in Blue,” promising, “But wait a couple more years.”

At the record’s close, Fogarty and company reinvent Big Star guitarist Chris Bell’s 1978 epic “I Am the Cosmos,” augmenting Bell’s hymn-like ode to painful romance with a Sonny Sharrock-style free-jazz freakout. Like the late Bell’s best songs of the era, “I Am the Cosmos” juxtaposes spiritual concerns against carnal ones. “Every night I tell myself I am the cosmos, I am the wind,” Fogarty intones. “But that don’t get you back again.” The best cover songs dig into a composition in search of new ways to share essential truths. Here, Fogarty threads the needle, honoring Bell’s gorgeous melody while simultaneously setting the controls for the heart of the sun. words / j woodbury

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