On the latest EP from the former Season Seven American Idol winner, David Cook takes bold new steps in re-imagining the way he approaches his songwriting and music. The Looking Glass EP has a certain swagger to it from an artist who feels like he’s getting his footing back, honing in on his strengths as a songwriter, and yet discovering new ways to tell his story. This is the first release of new music since 2018’s Chromance EP, and David Cook sounds as re-invigorated as he’s ever been. When I first heard the lead single, “Reds Turn Blue,” I wrote about this exciting new direction is his music, and I’m glad to say David Cook continues to cover new ground on this latest collection of heartfelt songs.
The record opens with the riff heavy stomp of “Champion,” where Cook channels his inner rock star mantra of playing by his rules. Cook explains his mindset as he sings in the first verses, “Mud is running down my face / But all I’m feeling is the seconds race / So turn it up, let the earth quake / ‘Cause I’m never gonna give up / Staring down the finish line / I can see the lights breathe fire / I’m gonna make it to the other side / ‘Cause I’m always gonna,” as he explodes into the chorus of “I’m always gonna shout it out ’til you hear it!” The song is one of the heaviest tracks he’s released in his career to date, and I really enjoyed the feel and veteran swagger he showcases in his vocal delivery.
My personal favorite from the record comes in the synth-laden “Strange World,” that brings perspective to the past year we have all experienced together. Cook suggests on the chorus, “Let’s forget about the strange world for a minute / We got upside down took the long way ’round for the feeling / Yeah, the city lights are in our heads / But we don’t have to leave this bed / Forget about the strange world for a minute.” The song churns along like a slow building fire until the drums and backing orchestra allow the song to hit its intended, lofty heights. The fairly straightforward composition still comes across as a very powerful statement from an artist looking for the silver linings of the past tumultuous year.
”Make A Move” sounds as close to the David Cook I remember from his self-titled record, and longtime fans of Cook will certainly find plenty of that familiar sound on this track. He explodes out of the gate with the great chorus hook of, “Down and out / Trying to get out of this one light town / Chasing pavement to make your parents proud / What’s it gonna be for you? / That old highway / So just make a move.” Its unclear if Cook is speaking about himself in this instance, as he looks for that motivation to break through at this crossroads, of sorts, in his career.
”Fire” was another single that released during this promotion cycle, and is one of the slower tracks on this collection. It is built around some nice acoustic guitar riffs, and it gradually brings in more instruments such as piano, strings, and bass. Cook goes into his higher vocal register with ease as he sings, “The only way that I wanna survive / Is breathing in the smoke living in your eyes,” as a backing choir fills in the “You set my heart on fire” parts. Its a very bluesy track that I enjoyed gradually more after each and every spin.
The record closes with “Going Back,” where David Cook sings directly into a vocoder to add some nuance to his trademark croon. The last words sent into the stratosphere on this EP hang with, “Hold on to the memories / The specks of dust floating in the atmosphere / Trying to find a way to attack / It’s all just a masquerade / Dancing to the drums, the battles of our yesteryear / But we ain’t ever going back / No, we ain’t going back.” With lyrics speaking directly to how tough the past year was for so many of us, Cook keeps his eyes focused on the future for better days ahead.
Overall, I came away from this EP more than pleasantly surprised with the sounds, guitar tones, and overall professional poise that David Cook showcased on this record. While he doesn’t cover a ton of new ground from what he’s tinkered with on past efforts, this collection of songs made me more excited for what will come next from this talented songwriter. While David admires everything that made him the man he is today, his introspective lyrics cut through the darkness of this rough year and his advice for his listeners is crystal clear: move forward, never back.