Dana Cooper fits the definition of journeyman singer-songwriter: 30 years in the business. One-time major-label act, now gone indie. Set down roots in L.A., Texas, and Nashville. Critical acclaim, but little public recognition. Check, check, check, and double-check. But Cooper really brings those years of making folk, blues, rock, and country to bear in his songs. Last year's Made of Mud was a little-heard gem that earned him an Indie Acoustic Project Award nomination, alongside Nickel Creek and Aimee Mann.
Sure, Cooper delivers the expected well-crafted, literate tunes about love and death. His token cover choice is Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd," but he uses the opportunity to expose the tune's topicality as well as his deft finger-picking skills. The real surprise is his rocking numbers. The jangly title track of the last album as well as "Sit This One Out" display a Tom Petty-Matthew Sweet quality, while "Step Into the Light" works to a rugged roots-rock groove. Cooper might be unheralded, but it has little bearing on the quality of his music.
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