"As a musician, Stephen Cohen wears many hats--singer, composer, guitarist, percussionist. Hence, the title of his outstanding new album, "Many Hats. Its 12 selections mark Cohen as an accomplished composer and endearing performer stepping out on the national stage. An amiable man, Cohen interjects a mood of tranquility into noisy world. Even when the silken Cohen rages in apocalyptic songs like "Shattered Light" and "Living in the Ruins" it is done without rancor. Other songs are insprired extensions of his drifty instrumentals. In "Gone, Gone," for example, he murmurs the words "gone, gone" over and over behind intricate guitar work. Yet, for all his soothing songs,it is the ones with a pronounced rhythmic surge that are the most attractive, like the funky "You Don't Know Who Your Dealing With".
Accompanying the CD is an evocative booklet with each song commemorated with an eye-catching mood photograph by Joe Wilkins III. Underlying all tracks is Cohen's distinctive guitar picking- a whispery, lyrical style that speaks from the heart. He has a gentle, sensuous voice and provides shimmering percussion as well. Cohen presents the full spectrum of his varied interests in a light and appealing way, marking him as a fresh talent to be reckoned with."-Fred Crafts, KUGN Morning Show,1-8-1996 Eugene,Oregon
"Many Hats" was my first recording since my two recordings in the seventies and eighties with the Tree People, one of which, "The Tree People" has recently been reissued worldwide by Tiliqua Records of Japan, with Tiliqua soon to release the second Tree People recording "Human Voices".
"Many Hats" is, as all my albums are, built around my acoustic guitar work, with some songs with lyrics and some all instrumental. This is the first album from what came to be my sculptural percussion phase (which is still going on in some ways), where I made instruments out of various metals, woods and found objects, and used them in the music and album design as well. This is also the first and only album so far that where I play some electric guitar (there just happened to be a beautiful Fender Stratocaster laying around Don Ross's Eugene,Oregon studio while I was working on the project). I layered phased electric guitar parts into two of the pieces,"Living in the Ruins" and "Blue Variations". This album also features two songs from what I call my "ruins" suite, "Shattered Light" (with lyrics based on a poem of Tree People member Jeff Stier) and "Living in the Ruins". Ruins are always with us, they will not go out of style!
I have included two songs from this CD, "Baseball, Baseball" and "Goodnight, Goodnight" in my 2006 children's album, "Here Comes the Band".
Because I did not do a whole lot to market "Many Hats" when it came out due to other things going on in my life at that time, I still have a box of "Many Hats" CDs left. I am putting "Many Hats" for sale at $10, or as part of CDbaby's special-$5 with the purchase of 2 other CDbaby sale bin CDs to share this album with CD Baby customers, hoping some existing fans will find it and some new fans will check out my other work as well.
Stephen Cohen, Portland, Oregon, February 1, 2007