Zack McGinn opens for Ross Cooper. Zack was the frontman for the wildly popular band Dolly Shine. Since the band broke up last year, the musician from Mason, Texas has toured these parts of the state as a solo act. He is well-known here for his Thursday night songwriter's showcases.
In a world of sound bites, text messages and ten second online videos, it takes a special talent to get people to pay attention to music for more than a few moments at a time. Lubbock, Texas native Ross Cooper is that talent. His latest album GIVE IT TIME makes a case for long-term listening, the kind of music headphones were designed for. His is an intimate listening experience that starts with the introspective title track and segues to story songs, the kind of songwriting Texas, Lubbock in particular, has been giving America for centuries.
As interesting as his music is, Ross Cooper’s story may be even more captivating, if not unexpected. Born into rodeo family (where his parents met), Cooper spent his life in the rodeo and, up until a few years ago, he had dual careers as both a bareback bronc rider and musician. It took a knee injury for the storytelling singer/songwriter to decide where his true path lead and fortunately for us, he chose music.
A product of West Texas from a town which he says is “an island surrounded by dirt,” Ross Cooper comes to music as naturally as he did the rodeo. While his family wasn’t heavily invested in music, he wrote his first song with his mother on her piano – Ross was only ten. From there, he learned from and listened to his parent’s favorite music (ZZ Top and Hank Williams), then his older brother’s (Cory Morrow, Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen). As great as those influences are, it wasn’t until Cooper heard The Mavericks and Ryan Adams that music really clicked.
From there, Ross Cooper was off. It brought him to a style of music that is unexpected from former rodeo stars: an amalgam of all those influences, but not stuck in one little box. This is music for everyone, not music tailored for the rodeo life. Some would call it Americana, some would call it Country, some would call it Rock. Whatever genre you choose to place it under, what it is is good music.
Songs like “Witches” show a depth in storytelling not often heard in young twenty-something artists while “Running Away” has that je-ne-sais-quoi to it that definitely screams Americana. “Girl From The Diner” is as interesting a murder ballad you’re likely to hear anywhere while “Don’t Remember” is a melodic slice of melancholy.
All of these songs suggest an artist who is ready to take his place as one of America’s best singer songwriters, but it’s the title track of GIVE IT TIME that shows Cooper’s potential for stardom. The percussive mid-tempo beat belies the befuddled heartache which permeates through “Give It Time,” a song that demands you pay attention to each and every lyric, with the refrain of “what doesn’t kill us first, my friends, just give it time, give it time, give it time.”
It is writing reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Townes Van Zandt. It’s a poetic slice of life that everyone can relate to, the kind of song which somehow manages to find echoes of hope, even if it serves as an ultimate reminder of humanity’s ticking clock. With the eleven songs on GIVE IT TIME, Ross Cooper manages to take us on a journey, a journey that cannot happen in sound bites, text messages or 10 second videos.