On his soul-stirring new EP Falling Up: The Pursuit of Life, Love and Happiness Part 1, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Corey TuT serves up high-powered hooks and fiercely intimate lyrics that boldly explore light, dark, and the shadowy spaces in between. An ingenious mix of playful pop and gut-punching rock ballads, the new EP represents an ambitious departure from the in-your-face attitude of TuT’s 2008 album, Everything. “I released a lot of anger on the last album, so Falling Up comes from a much more hopeful place,” says the New York-based TuT. “It’s about letting go, and learning how to be grateful and happy in my life.”
Make no mistake: Falling Up is no less passionate than its punk-fueled predecessor. Right from its opening surge of strings (on the slyly anthemic “Falling Apart”), the record seizes the listener on a visceral level and never lets up. On “Hangman,” for instance, TuT underscores his beautifully somber piano work with heartaching lyrics about love gone bad that whirls into a furious tantrum of rage and catharsis. And with its stark arrangement of acoustic guitar, haunting electronic effects, and mournful, full-throated vocals, “Like I Loved You” makes for a quietly devastating closing track.
On the sunny side of Falling Up, you’ll find poppy pick-me-ups like “I Think I’m in Love,” a high-energy, handclap-driven spin on classic bubblegum that boasts an irresistibly bouncy drumbeat. Perhaps the sweetest moment on the record, “Song for a Monkey” features TuT’s ukulele debut. “I was having trouble getting that song to see the light of day,” he says. “So I borrowed my friend’s little orange ukulele and taught myself to play it, and that turned out to be the missing piece.” The resulting track is spare and lovely, with honey-voiced harmonies and a breezy melody beamed in straight from some sun-soaked tropical beach.
TuT says he owes that dynamic diversity of sound in part to Super Buddha, a Brooklyn-based production team who’ve worked with the likes of Deborah Harry, Rufus Wainwright, and the Scissor Scissors. “They really get what a song is supposed to be,” says TuT of Super Buddha, who also produced his last record. “Whether it’s my little ukulele jam or a fully orchestrated rock manifesto, they do everything they can to support the song. That’s what is most important to me.” Indeed, Falling Up deftly flaunts TuT’s momentous musical talent, expanding on Everything’s guitar-driven spark and playing up his rediscovered love for the piano. “Piano hasn’t really factored into my songwriting for quite a long time, so that was a big corner for me to turn, artistically,” says TuT, who first began making music by teaching himself to play his grandmother’s piano and singing in a local boy’s choir at age 8.
Taking time out from the chaos of city life and retreating to a friend’s beachside home in the dead of winter was also essential to shaping the songs on Falling Up. “There was nobody around for miles, and I just holed up and wrote,” TuT says of his sojourn in Montauk. That escape ended up inspiring “Up,” TuT’s favorite track on the new record. “I went out hiking one morning, when I first got to the beach and was still decompressing from the city,” he says. “It was February so of course it was freezing, but all of a sudden I literally stepped out from the shadows and into the sun and the simple joy of that moment really hit me. The moment the sun hit my face, everything sort of clicked. I pulled out my phone and started writing the lyrics to ‘Up’ immediately.” Beginning with bleak lyrics and gloomy piano chords, “Up” ultimately builds into a gloriously sweeping epic propelled by dance-worthy drumbeats and TuT’s high-soaring vocals. “The message of the song is that you’ve gotta stop looking down at the cracks; stop focusing on all the negative B.S. in life. Instead of going into the dark places; remembering to stay in the light.” says TuT. “You can’t see the shadows when you’re looking toward the sun.”
“The first song I wrote for the record was ‘Falling Apart’ and the last one was ‘Up’. I did a lot of growing as a person in between writing those songs and that’s why I combined the two titles to form the title of the record Falling Up. It’s all about living and learning and growing. You’re gonna fall down. You’re gonna get you’re heart broken a few times, but you gotta keep getting up and getting back in the game. It’s about maximizing the journey. That’s what it means to be Falling Up.” -Elizabeth Barker