Review: Michael Cullen – “True Believer”


As Michael Cullen opens True Believer with “Black Dog” (no, not that “Black Dog”) it is challenging to not immediately get roped into his world of love gone awry and the characters responsible for that.

In Cullen’s voice is equal parts sincerity and a defiant grit that tells the listener he is not afraid of moving past life’s hardships. Yet, you feel every ounce of shit Cullen has had to trudge through to make it out the other side. He drags you along with him and doesn’t mind if you get dirty along the way.

While the music on True Believer is far beyond what many would consider minimalist, it has a certain delicacy to it that allows the deep lyrical subject matter to leap from the page. Cullen doesn’t hide behind intense sonic layering or vast soundscapes – he gives you spooky accompaniments to his words.

In many ways, listening to Cullen isn’t unlike sitting tight and intently focusing on works by Morrissey, Tom Waits, or Leonard Cohen. There is a poetic strength here and one that isn’t easy to not ache along with.

-Adam Grant

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