Atomic Javelina Records.
One Foot Firmly Planted in the Country Rock Garden, While The Other Hovers Over The Americana Patch Too.
I think it’s possible that Texas may have more singer-songwriters than cattle these days; so I can’t be expected to know every name on the circuit; can I?
So when this first arrived on a busy day it got filed but not listened to …. then; regular readers will raise their eyes; but my trusty iphone was set to shuffle last Tuesday and after a couple of winsome female singers; a voice from Hades crawled out of the car speakers singing Angel From Montgomery …… YES PLEASE!
I muttered, and played it again …… WOWZA! By this time I was nearly home; so made a mental note to play the album the following morning.
Play it I did ….. 4 or 5 times on rotation.
OK Angel From Montgomery, which opens the album is a cast iron Classic; but genuinely Drew Cooper’s deep and rich baritone, singing at 3/4 speed will make you forget 99% of other renditions (apart from John Prine and Bonnie Raitt’s versions of course!).
With a voice that bizarrely sounds like a cross between Soul Singer Teddy Pendergrass and RMHQ Fan Favourite Matt Andersen; Drew Cooper sounds like he is actually ‘living’ inside his songs; and wants you to live next door ….. even when he notches up the tempo on Whiskey & Smoke, (Stuck In) Lodi and New Heart, there’s such an intimacy in his words and phrasing that they will stop you dead in your tracks.
But, with one foot firmly planted in the Country fields and the other hovering over Folk and Blues too, without ever deciding which works best, all of Cooper’s songs are as heartfelt as they are intimate; even the rocker American Son which closes the album in a way John Prine would be proud of.
For songs that are invariably on the slower side; Cooper’s guitar playing is invariably so intense you wouldn’t be surprised to find out he was actually, making his guitar gently weep on Every Note and again on Darker and Darker, which feels like someone pressing against your heart and not stopping until you eventually Tap Out.
There’s a rare fluency to this album; even if my words on individual songs don’t point in that direction; but with a voice as distinctive as Drew Cooper’s everything he ever sings will sound like him and no one else; which is where I’ll point you to the rich melancholia of the anthemic This Life as a perfect example.
My final two songs , which have tied for the title of RMHQ Favourite Song are so very different; but at their core so very much the same.
When you first pick up this album the last thing you’d expect to hear would be a Tex-Mex Rock and Roll song; but that’s what you get with Cooper’s fabulous version of Vaya Con Dios which actually out Mavericks the Mavericks, the way Cooper and associates digs deep into the soul of this nearly ancient song.
The other, Madeline is another out and out Rocker ….. but one with hints of The Blasters at their amphetamine fuelled best; and I’m very tempted to make it a stand alone Favourite …. it’s that bloody good.
So I will.
FYI this is very much my type of Country Music; and sadly unlikely to trouble the CMA Awards committee; but me and you will treasure this album, plus future and past releases like family heirlooms.
Released April 15th (CD)
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