As a young teenager, Kent-born Will Joseph Cook developed an interest in music. He liked listening to the likes of MGMT and Vampire Weekend, and he enjoyed going to concerts and live gigs. Any opportunity to engage with music, he took. Then, he started writing his own songs; he wrote everything from the lyrics to the music, from escapist wordplay to quirky guitar riffs. After self-releasing three EPs in 2015, You Jump I Run, Proof Enough, and Insignificant With You, Cook captured the attention of a major record label: Atlantic Records. Now, flash forward a few years, and Will Joseph Cook has released his first full-length album Sweet Dreamer at the ripe age of 19.
Sweet Dreamer is the perfect introduction for alternative-pop newbie Cook; the album shows off Cook’s capacity, individuality, and versatility as an artist. I can’t think of anything I’ve heard that sounds quite like Will Joseph Cook’s full-length debut. The record is a mish mash of different genres; it samples from pop, alternative, folk, electronic, and more. It sounds like Cook really took in everything he heard growing up, he absorbed it all.
The album begins with Biggest Fan, a song that gives you a taste for what is to come. Biggest Fan, full of sunny guitar strums and catchy beats, was one of the few tracks Cook released a little bit before the rest of the album. When I listened to it for the first time, it only made me more excited for the release as a whole. Next up is Sweet Dreamer, the song from which the record gets its title. As the song begins, Cook croons a lyric relatable to all of us; he sings, “Sometimes I’m complicated and sometimes I’m not”. Simple, but effective. (And while some might criticize this lyric for its blunt simplicity, I respond: Sometimes lyrics are complicated and sometimes they’re not – they don’t have to be.) Cook says exactly what he needs to say, and he often speaks what we’re all thinking.
The next song, Treat Me Like a Lover, is possibly my favorite. The song is a call for emotional honesty on behalf of a romantic partner; it captures the sweet angst that comes with pining over someone you love. Simple in its construction, the tune highlights Cook’s vocal range and introspective ability as a songwriter. His voice can be almost operatic, filled with emotion, drama, and depth. He’s not just singing empty words; he’s feeling what he’s singing. And in this week’s episode of Will Joseph Cook’s relatable lyrics, he sings, “Got so sick of all the wondering”, “No point hiding how you’re feeling”, and “Wanna be real”.
Towards the end of the album is Take Me Dancing. This song reminds me of what it felt like at the end of a high school dance, when the crowd starts to thin out, the music slows down, and the lights begin to dim. As Cook sings “Well I could be the answers to all of your prayers, take me dancing”, you realize this is the kind of song you hear in a coming-of-age movie, when that couple, who have been through many trials and tribulations, finally realize they are meant to be together; the kind of song you have your first kiss to.
What this album really tells us: Will Joseph Cook is way beyond his years, and he has many more stories to tell.