Cam Groves | photo Jason Bosch
“Hi my name is Cam G/I’m whiter than some mayonnaise.” Even at the close of his newly released third album, Backwoods & Bitches , Cam Groves still feels the need to introduce himself. Perhaps that’s because each day opens for him brand-new and gleaming, 24 hours of possibility sprawling ahead of him.
“Day by Day,” introduced like a Southern rock ballad, a ride off into the sunshine, quickly reasserts itself as hip hop done by the Dead Milkmen: “I have no plan, but it’s alright/I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.” The “oh, oh, oh, oh” that fills the background brings in some fist-in-the-air Billy Idol for good measure.
Yes, Groves has crystallized himself as liberation personified. You know that Zumba prostitute? Groves only wishes he’d known she was open for business. And the loss of Twinkies was a personal affront.
At the heart of this personal aesthetic is the excellently silly “Freedom,” an anthem to the basest definition of that word, filled with an electric guitar riff and an appropriate amount of bombast. Seriously, you can do whatever you want. You’re ultimately and completely free. What’s your definition? Is it, “one black sock and a white from another pair/Sitting at my desk, making beats in my underwear”?
If so, Cam is your man: “It’s America, welcome to the land of/Driving down to Wal-Mart just to buy a handgun.” Not that he’s the violent type. Nah, he’s too busy chasing strippers and thinking up euphemisms for smoking dope.
Luckily, that dedication to decadence and his chosen art has produced some pretty killer songs. Groves has clearly been practicing. Handling all of the production here, he lays down some very contemporary and forward-thinking pieces, built largely in verse-chorus-verse. There’s room for growth in the margins, but he progresses into verses nicely and because he’s done the whole song, there’s good integration of vocal delivery and sampling flourishes. The songs feel built from the ground up, not just lyrics over a beat.
The R&B construction of guitar and strings behind “Naked with You,” as though John Denver were hanging out with Barry White, is smooth like freshly laid pavement. Groves’s joint with long-time pal Spose, “Pinata,” is Wells by way of Bollywood, a raga study in assonance, with three substantive verses from each. “Not the One” reeks of high school dalliance with Depeche Mode, digitally fueled and overly dramatic in the chorus, which features one of a few sung bits by Groves, who maybe is being ironic, but still isn’t all that easy on the ears.
No worries. There are highlights here aplenty: well placed Big Lebowski and South Park clips, a particularly good guest turn from Trails’ Syn the Shaman, a chorus that includes the observation that, “I let my nuts sag and I drag my dick” and will probably having you sing along with it.
Surely, no one has ever put more effort into an exposition on doing nothing.
Backwoods & Bitches | Released by Cam Groves | on P.Dank Entertainment | with Spose | at the Leavitt Theater, in Ogunquit | July 31 | facebook.com/camgroves.pdank