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New & Noteworthy: Ross Cooper

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Ross Cooper is the rare country musician who has actually lived the life of a cowboy. The former professional bareback rider was still bustin’ broncs when his music career began. Though a knee injury sidelined his rodeo career, Cooper drives a band like he’s still wearing spurs and holding on for eight. His new album, I Rode The Wild Horses, pushes country music way past traditional territory just for the rush. It’s the new Nashville sound: glimmering pedal steel, rollicking & rocking telecaster riffs, soulful keys, and gorgeous harmonies.

Cooper grew up surrounded by music taking piano and guitar lessons. By the age of ten he’d written a gospel song with his mom, and set his mind to playing guitar and a life of music. He’s been in Nashville for five years, but Cooper hails from Lubbock, Texas, the hometown of Buddy Holly, and Holly’s influence upon Cooper’s music is clear. Every country song rocks, and every rock song has an unmistakable twang.

A fan of both indie-rock and country-folk greats like Guy Clark and John Prine, Cooper draws largely upon small town life and the simplicity it affords. It’s this eclectic taste in music and his time in the trenches with other talented songwriters that makes I Rode The Wild Horses special. The sound of the record ranges from country torch bearers to dirty garage rockers, and from the first note you know this is something different.

The album opens on the title track, and Cooper’s “Coming out” song establishes him as an anomaly among Nashville musicians, an actual cowboy. His belt buckle is no longer shiny, his body still aches, and he’s got stories to tell about it. “I ain’t got much to show,” he sings, “But I rode the wild horses.” The opening track ends in a fuzzed out electric solo and Cooper ad-libs a rodeo announcer’s cadence. It’s a hypnotic induction to a country-rock record.

“Heart Attack” struts in on a cinematic whistle and a muted electric riff. Cooper describes an object of affection, singing, “Is this who you are, or how you act?” as drums and electric guitar build into a tense orchestra. Cooper sings about self-medication, a pounding pulse, and living on pins and needles. It’s just the second song but there’s a perfect bridge with a tempo change, a haunting chorus and piano stabs. Cooper sings “What doesn’t kill me keeps me comin’ back.” And you’re hooked.

Embedded in the Nashville song writing community, Cooper has made some talented friends, many of whom appear on I Rode The Wild Horses. The album was made at The Casino, Eric Masse’s recording studio. Cooper sought Masse out for his recent work with acts like Andrew Combs, Robert Ellis, Rayland Baxter, and Miranda Lambert. Combs even helped Cooper write “Lady Of The Highway,” a traveling song with a country-politan polish.

With so much talent at hand, Cooper took care to put together songs he’s written that develop into an album meant to be listened to cover to cover.

“I wanted to give the album a consistent voice.” says Cooper. “It has the theme of a road weary cowboy. Where my life away from home taught me to celebrate the simple things.”

“I’m going to work as hard as I can with this record,” Ross tells CMTT. “I want to burn up the highway and spread this album like wildfire…I can’t wait for what’s in store.  Going to be a helluva year.”

Get to Know CMTT’s New & Noteworthy Artist:  Ross Cooper:

Forthcoming LP: I Rode The Wild Horses – Produced by Nashville mainstay Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert, Andrew Combs, Rayland Baxter), the record features contributions from Erin Rae on vocals, Jeremy Fetzer (Steelism) on guitar, Eli Beard on bass, Tommy Perkinson (Lera Lynn) on drums, Skylar Wilson on keys, and the incomparable Eddy Dunlap on pedal steel.

Why you should be listening:   I Rode The Wild Horses ranges from country torch-bearers to dirty garage rockers, and from the first note you know this is something different–every country song rocks, and every rock song has an unmistakable twang. It’s the new Nashville sound: glimmering pedal steel, rollicking & rocking telecaster riffs, soulful keys, and gorgeous harmonies.

Cooper is acutely aware of the dichotomy between actual cowboys and the urban cowboys of Nashville, and makes it known throughout I Rode The Wild Horses. Throughout the record, he maintains a songwriting integrity and honor that he learned in West Texas in the rodeo circuit.

Musical Influences:  “My first real musical influence was Ryan Adams; more specifically, Heartbreaker.  My brother gave me that album when it came out and I was floored.  It was the best thing I’d ever heard. I memorized it front to back and wore it out.  It was the soundtrack for every one of my teenage heartaches. It’s still one of my favorites. I also love Guy Clark, the Mavericks, and Calexico to name a few. They’re the artists and bands that I reach for the most.”

Personal Influences:  “My dad and Guy Clark. My dad is–to me–the poster child of West Texas. He’s an old cowboy filled with stories. He works hard and is true to his word. On the music side, it doesn’t get better than Guy. A true poet and artist with an unmistakable writer’s voice. I want to be half the man my dad is, and half the songwriter Guy Clark was. If I can achieve both, I’ll be doing it right. ”

Music Sounds Like:  Andrew Combs, Ryan Adams, Margo Price, Caroline Spence, Paul Cauthen, Rayland Baxter, John Prine, Guy Clark

Get Social with Ross Cooper:
www.ross-cooper.com
www.facebook.com/rosscoopermusic
www.instagram.com/rossgcooper
www.twitter.com/rosscoopermusic

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