London born, Nashville based Spencer Cullum debut solo album, Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection may pay homage to the ’60s and ‘70s psych-pop, folk and proto prog heroes of his homeland. But with a supporting cast of fellow Music City stage and studio aces like guitarist Sean Thompson and multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds, as well as singing and writing partners like Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs, Erin Rae, Annie Williams and James “Skyway Man” Wallace — he’s bringing a bit of Britain to Tennessee.
“I wanted to write a very quintessential English folk record, but with really good Nashville players.” Cullum says of Canterbury Scene conjuring Coin Collection, name-checking Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny. The album manifests his love for psych-prog ground-breakers the Soft Machine, digs deep into cerebral ambient inspirations like Robert Fripp and Brian Eno and even kosmische icons NEU! “I’ve always wanted to mix krautrock music into folk and psychedelia,” he explains.
With an arm’s length list of credits stretching from the likes of Kesha, Dolly Parton and Deer Tick, to Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, pedal steel savant Cullum is one of Nashville’s most in-demand session cats. That’s in addition to making up half of acclaimed, primarily instrumental space-country duo “Steelism.” Clearly he’s had little trouble fitting in since moving from his native London by way of Detroit eight years ago, even if it’s mostly meant blending in. “I guess I’ve always hidden behind [the instrument],” he deadpans. “I’m always the guy who looks like he’s studying for a test in the background.”
Produced by Jeremy Ferguson and recorded at the Grammy-winning Nashville indie-rock producer’s Battle Tapes Recording studio, the album boasts a wide-open, bell-clear sound fit for a deftly shimmering set of songs with non-narrative lyrics culled from the mystic corners of the subliminal mind. The lyrics come from “my own experience,” Cullum explains, “but [I] also wanted to not be emotionally specific, almost in a dreamlike, subconscious state. Like spidergram.”
Though on the new single 'Imminent Shadow', Cullum reveals a little more of himself: "I wrote Imminent Shadow when I was having lucid dreams a few years ago and pondering if it had something to do with hereditary depression stemming from my grandfather. I’ve never wanted my songs to be too personal of my own situation but instead for them to have a sub-conscious dream-like aspect to them. This, I guess, is the most personal track on the record."
Jack of Fools
To Be Blinkered
Tombre en Morceaux
The Dusty Floor
Pre-order Spencer Cullum's Coin Collection on green vinyl, limited edition clear vinyl + hand-numbered sleeve (via Rough Trade), CD and digital here.