WE REVIEW THE NEW ALBUM BY ANDREW CUSHIN – WAITING FOR THE RAIN
Beginning your debut album with a song called ‘Let me Give it to You’ feels like something of a mission statement for Andrew Cushin. Aggressively bluesy and gutsy, Cushin sounds confident in his arrival as, for the first time, an ‘album artist’.
It took time to get there though. It’s been over a year since the release of Cushin’s EP You Don’t Belong Here, and even longer since his home football team, Newcastle, has played European football (the day before the release of his debut album, Cushin is enthusing on social media about the EFL Cup as much as he is about the release of his own debut record).
Waiting for the Rain is its title, and waiting he’s done. Cushin has spoken to the RGM Podcast about his years of grinding out live shows and how his rise began from gigs in the smallest of venues.
Signed to Strap Originals, the label co-founded by The Libertines’ Pete Doherty, and having recently toured with Louis Tomlinson, it’s understandable that Cushin would say, however cautiously, that the ‘stars are aligning’.
The ‘Rain’ in the album’s title feels like the outpouring of emotion. It is the product of a years-long endeavour. Cushin’s songwriting is braver for it. While the influence of provocative indie sleaze and the accompanying self-aggrandisement is there, he aims for something more visceral.
The alcohol-themed ‘4.5%’ is vulnerable, with lyrics sung by a pained son, begging his father to understand the impact of his addiction. It’s one of a few times when Cushin ditches guitars for ambient electronic swoops and gestures.
He’s stylistically capricious. There are allusions to folk punk on ‘Wor Flags’ and REM-style orchestrated acoustic pop on ‘Dream for a Moment’. It’s in these moments of departure that Cushin sounds oddly most comfortable, challenging himself to go beyond the indie paradigm.
Broken piano chords drearily signpost the title track, a country-tinged ballad where Cushin sings about how he’s ‘hanging by the fire’, while ‘waiting for the rain’. The not-so-specific lyrics only add to the desperation of the situation. The lack of explanation as to what the fire exactly is makes the panic in Cushin’s vocal all the more poignant.
Being a debut LP means it’s inevitably patchy on occasion. The shmaltzy ‘Comedown’ sees Cushin taking on power balladry and sounding eerily like a motivational speaker in the process. ‘Just Like You’d Want me to’ is better, but Cushin’s lyrics about doing ‘no wrong if you keep singing along’ aren’t as satisfying as songs like ‘I Want you to be There’ – during which Cushin sounds simultaneously and paradoxically disconsolate and hopeful in his most heart-breaking vocal tone.
Most impressive, however, is the album’s pacing. Far from a collection of songs thrown carelessly together, there’s a flow and tempo to the overall structure. Its closing moments – detailed aptly through a song called ‘The End’ – is suitably climactic.
It’s group-sung chorus would be anthemically suited to festival audiences. For those, Cushin will have to wait until next summer. For now, he’s delivered a debut with plenty of thoughtfulness, nous, and earnestness.