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Saturday 18 May 2024

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Even For A Shadow – Ray Cooper.

May 2, 2024

There are two kinds of journey. The most important one is the journey through life, and, of lesser moment in the scheme of things, but surely up there in the top ten are the endless miles of motorway travel for the touring musician. The routine of motorway/show/hotel and the contact with new people that this brings is meat and drink to Ray Cooper – it is his home.

‘Even For a Shadow’ is his fifth solo album and richly inspired by his decades of travelling, including 23 years with Oysterband. The title-song sets the tone instantly  –  the archetypal another-day-another-town, road ballad, complete with rainy journey tyre noise. ‘Falling Like Thunder’ is an unnervingly topical stream of consciousness delivered in rapid rhyming patter. The roster of accompanists to Ray’s multi-instrumental talents is impressive, – his upscaled treatment of the old Irish march tune ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ is a treasure and his further pushing of this apron with a rockabilly version of the doom-drenched classic ‘Sir Patrick Spens’ is, well… different.

A restless album, gentle and sharp, playful and snappy. There is biting political comment, rueful rumination and easy tenderness.  On this road trip there are as many reflections on the human condition as there are on a long, rain-sodden carriageway.

Bob Langstaff.


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