Ross Cooper

REVIEW: Ross Cooper “Lightning Heart”


Ross Cooper – Lightning Heart

Four songs into Ross Cooper’s latest album, Lightning Heart, over a twangy telecaster he sings “Everyone wants to be a cowboy ‘til it’s time to do cowboy shit,” on “Everybody Wants to Be A Cowboy,” a track he co-wrote with Wyatt Cote. And he sings it with strong authenticity, as a second-generation rodeo cowboy with a faithful Lone Star State accent. While he may or may not be talking about the slew of musicians who have relocated over the past few years to Nashville and suddenly started playing Country adjacent music, there’s no denying the Cooper’s the real thing.

On Lightning Heart, the follow up to I Rode the Wild Horses, Cooper writes and sings with an ease and honesty that you can’t fake. You can hear it on the opening track, the unrushed “A Good Living,” about trying to take care of yourself – a song that hits harder emotionally than expected when you really focus on the lyrics. It’s also apparent on “Gone Are the Days” a song that bridges nostalgia and the changes in life.

The album draws on Cooper’s personal experiences, specifically his family, his wife and his upbringing in Lubbock, Texas for songwriting fodder. “I’m a cowboy, and that’s always been a huge part of my ethos, and it’s absolutely inspired my songwriting, but at my core, I’m a writer and storyteller,” he says. “It’s the part of me that has endured and makes me feel like I have a purpose.”

Influenced by fellow Texans like Joe Ely and Robert Earl Keen, Cooper pulled together this record toward the end of the COVID lock downs, using the album as a way to channel a lot of the experiences he and everyone around him were going through. There is a lot of introspection in the songs here, especially on a track like “A Good Living,” and in a more lighthearted moment on the brilliant “Life’s Too Short to Live in Dallas.” Lightning Heart is easily Cooper’s most consistently satisfying album yet.

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Lightning Heart was produced by Ross Cooper, Kevin Harper, and Josh Serrato, engineered by Kevin Harper and Josh Serrato, and recorded at Melody Mountain Ranch and Klee Sounds.  It was mastered by Chris Henderson at Hendyamps.  Musicians on the album are 
Ross Cooper on vocals, guitar and harmony vocals; Mike Dunton on electric guitar; O’Neal Cooper on harmony vocals; Ray Akers and Kevin Harper on bass; Brian Cox on drums and harmony vocals;  James Hill on keys; Alex Cordell on pedal steel and Kevin Harper on violin. 

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