Record Of The Week # 42

April 29, 2018

Ross Cooper – I Rode The Wild Horses

Some of the best Country tracks released in 2018 are to be found on this album by Nashville domiciled Texan, Ross Cooper. If you start with the fact that Cooper raised $21k via crowd funder website Kickstarter to get this album promoted then you obviously won’t find the fingerprints of a major record label across it. However it is only a matter of time before they come calling.

The twelve short tracks are a cross between mainstream Nashville Country and Americana Country Rock, although the PR threw up Alt-Western as the genre. That somehow seems to fit the atmospheric title track with its cinematic vista of horses, tumbleweed, rodeos and bars. Cooper had an earlier career as a bronco rider and writes with considerable experience of the lifestyle, travel and injuries. He relays this through the thoughts of a retired rider reflecting on the highs and lows but taking considerable satisfaction at the thrill of his tussle with unharnessed nature. Eric Masse produced the album and he’s been accumulating experience with some stellar artists. This included working on Miranda Lambert’s The Weight Of These Wings. Along with his talent on the dials he brings a fabulous selection of Nashville musicians. It’s here that we first hear the incendiary and heavy guitar of Jeremy Fetzer as he sets the track alight with a blistering solo toward the end.

Cooper slips easily between light and shade. “Another Mile” is a fast paced acoustic pop tune where a pleasing chorus is supported by being driven along by a band of guitar, keyboard, pedal steel and drums. However, the sweetest traditional Country outing is ‘Lady Of The Highway’. Cooper lays down his homage to travel on the road. Eddy Dunlap’s delightful pedal steel gives the song charm and personality. Take note this should be at the very top of the Country charts NOW.

 “Strangers In The Bar” intimately clues you in on a routine pick up and sounds like Kip Moore over a throbbing beat. The words are succinct – ‘And you should come with a warning, you’ll be alone in the morning. Fishing for the first of many drinks, Hooking fools on the first of many winks.’ We feel that ‘busy life on the road vibe’ and its loneliness. Here two people find temporary solace in each other’s arms after a seemingly well rehearsed pas de deux.

A rolling rhythm against a backdrop of organ accompanies the final track “All She Wrote”. He recounts the terseness of his lover’s moving message of goodbye. Ironically he finds all this out as he reads her note (that he forgot to open half a day earlier) where she tells him that it ‘doesn’t feel like she’s leaving, cause you can’t leave a man already gone.’ Short, impactful and armed witha great hook.

His distinctive and attractive vocals are always able to sound rowdy but he can find that slower Country tender heartbreak tone. Each track is beautifully crafted and there is just so much damn catchiness about it all that you may have withdrawal symptoms.

Lastly, in a recent interview Cooper says about the music business “It changes every day, but I’d say for most artists like me there’s always a struggle with giving an audience a reason to care. It’s not enough being a good singer-songwriter anymore because there’s so much music out there that’s great. You have to be constantly working and constantly moving”. This is true, but, Ross, trust me they will care. You’ve absolutely nailed it here.

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