California dreamer doesn’t dream big enough
There are many things one thinks of when California comes to mind. Some people picture beautiful beaches all the way down the coast, while others think of the laid-back (and beautiful) people, among other things. Usually, these mental images are all positive ones, so much so that musicians for a long time have attempted to capture California in a single sound. Cisco Adler is one of these musicians. For a while he was mainly a hip-hop producer, working with artists such as Shwayze, Wiz Khalifa and Mike Posner. But in 2012, Adler dipped his toes into a solo career, releasing the album Aloha, followed by Coastin’ in 2014. Both releases offered Adler’s ‘new take on the California sound,’ per his Spotify bio. His new release, Hippieland, is another example of this.
What does the ‘California sound’ mean to Adler? Hippieland is full of extremely laid-back and chilled-out songs consisting mainly of chiming acoustic guitars, layered vocal harmonies and aesthetically pleasing melodies. The perfect example of all of this is the title track, which floats along with little resistance in the mind. Other highlights include the surprisingly upbeat “High Tide Again,” the collaboration with blues trio G Love & Special Sauce “Sunday Vibe and the tender acoustic finisher “Limousine Driver.”
Unfortunately for Adler, beneath the pretty vibe there’s no substance. Adler’s lyrics are confusing at best, and flat-out lazy at worst. The other big drawback is that there’s barely 20 minutes of music. Excluding the opening track, the album’s eight songs don’t make much of a dent in the listener’s consciousness. The thing about the ‘California sound’ that makes it so appealing to many is that it manages to not only weave a sonic tapestry but also evokes strong emotions in the listener of wanting to be there. Adler’s skills as a producer may have helped him nail the instrumentals, but in the emotion department, Hippieland is sorely lacking. Usually, listeners have the choice to attach meanings as complex or as vapid as they choose to any song, but Adler leaves fans no such choice, which ultimately is a pity and drags down what could have been a solid release.