David Cook Lights the Way With Sharply, Nuanced EP 'The Looking Glass' (Review)

After first capturing the hearts of music lovers as the winner of American Idol more than a decade ago reworking modern pop classics, singer-songwriter David Cook is officially back with his new EP, The Looking Glass — the follow-up to his 2018 release, Chromance. Sharing a sharply nuanced record that beams bright with optimism amid a warm glow of sentiment and heart, Cook’s new six-track set is a defining collection for the artist looking to take his music to a whole new level.

Produced by Analog Heart Music, the distinctive collection exploring new sounds through profoundly contemplative lyricism recorded in quarantine last year blends Cook’s signature range with another flawless record that will leave fans wanting more from the 38-year-old. Flirting with synths and pulsating guitars, the record kicks off with the powerful, anthemic-sounding “Champion,” which combines his familiar alluring melodies with a fun bounce and energy. Though he surprisingly (and most hilariously) samples Herbert from Family Guy ahead of the track as an introduction with the sounds of a projector firing up, it’s this EP’s debut that sets the overall tone for his record and the prevailing themes of “making it to the other side.”

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(Photo: Analog Heart Music 2021)

“Reds Turn Blue” follows and is a deeply intimate song as Cook previously revealed it was a take on his anxiety and a songwriting experience that was nothing short of “therapeutic.” With the song’s title alluding to a visual representation of emotions embodied in an unabashed, sentimentality, the track with its earnest arena-rock vibes is all about perspective. Blending an ‘80s sort of sound with pulsing synths, “Strange World” follows as a track that not only showcases Cook’s attractive chops alongside an impressive push in experimenting with sounds but encapsulates how we perceive the world within our walls. The haunting track filled with emotion and sincerity alongside an electronic keyboard is lifted most enchantingly with soft violin strings.

Hitting the halfway mark on his EP with “Make a Move,” the fourth track continues the reflective journey with an anthemic, feel-good song robust in its message as he moves from gritty to smooth in mere seconds. With sprinkles of an ‘80s sound he manages so creatively, the track is a distinct power ballad full of layers that translate into a compelling track and heighten in ingenuity thanks to a haunting bridge that slows down in tempo for a chill-inducing harmonizing finale.

In what might be the best track among Cook’s exciting catalog of music, “Fire” is a gorgeous song that expresses vulnerability and desperation through an anthemic number that is an emotionally rich love letter burning with passion. Composed with feverish beats, an elegant piano and delicate guitar strumming, the strikingly rich and raw track is a catchy song that Cook conveys perfectly alongside vocals that tug at frank and honest romanticism that’ll have you singing at the top of your lungs.

Finishing off the EP with “Going Back,” Cook concludes his poignant and reflective journey with a smooth track that is almost ethereal in its arrangement. Haunting and capable of inducing chill bumps, the track asking, “how did we get here?” is a lot more than meets the eye with its lyrics juxtaposed to a mindfully rich, mesmerizing composition. Detailing the “specks of dust floating in the atmosphere” amid a year that has become ground zero for the world’s greatest pain, Cook utilizes soft synths alongside a soulful piano as he sings to “hold onto the memories” as we move forward. The track, powerful in its message and strong enough to induce tears, reiterates “we ain’t going back” as it ends off with sounds of the projector coming to the end of its reel.

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Known for pouring his heart out in every musical work stemming as far back as his debut in 2006 with Analog Heart, Cook continues to have a sound that resonates with listeners thanks to an honesty in not just the rhythms of every song that pulse like a heartbeat through his very own, but the sincerity of intrinsic and candid storytelling. Garnering an A rating with detailed songs that pack a punch to convey an expansive kaleidoscope of raw emotions, The Looking Glass is a sincere collection with its soaring tracks of hope, optimism and love as Cook pumps meaning into a collectively dark experience we can all relate to.

David Cook’s EP The Looking Glass is now available, and available at Amazon. For more on David and all your favorite musicians, keep it locked to PopCulture.com!