Jack Cooper - Sandgrown

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-08-18

The first impression you form when you listen to an album is certainly important, but it usually isn’t the decisive one. This is particularly the case if that first impression is a positive one. In those cases, you are hit immediately in your head (or your heart), getting the impression that you are listening to an instant classic.

On the other hand, some albums sound good enough, but are rather unassuming, leaving you to wonder whether you’ll ever listen to it again. Then, things start to change, and those instant classics now lie somewhere in the distant corners of your collection, while those unassuming anonymities become the cherished albums you can’t stop listening to.

And that brings us to Jack Cooper and his debut solo album Sandgrown. Finding out that Jack is a member of Ultimate Painting immediately rang a few bells. Their two albums definitely fall into that unassuming category, and since I had them, they have had quite a few plays in my home. Nothing much is going to change with Cooper’s solo offering in that respect. It is one of those albums that just keep on revealing new layers after every listen, and that remind you of so many great artists. Mind you, they don’t merely copy them, but rather integrate the essence of their music into their own.

Record label PR's usually drop a bunch of cool artists’ names when they try to promote their act. With Cooper, names like Bill Fay, Scott Walker, Robert Wyatt and John Cale are mentioned. Fay and Walker's connection is a bit of a stretch unless you pay a bit more attention to the atmosphere and lyricism Cooper creates here. I don’t know about Robert Wyatt, unless he represents the endearing vocal fragility Cooper exhibits. Also, I’m certain that Wyatt, a big connoisseur and fan of jazz, would quite appreciate the jazzy guitar sound of the two-part title track.

On the other hand, it is John Cale on his first few albums like Vintage Violence and Paris 1919, Yo La Tengo in their more subdued modes, or even current artist Kevin Morby that most justify their comparisons with Cooper. Yet, Cooper is definitely his own man, musically and lyrically. Creating a thematic connection with his childhood town Blackpool has obviously given him the chance to put in some genuine emotion into his music, so that somebody like me, who has no experience of Blackpool whatsoever, can sense the music exactly in the way that Cooper wanted.

Sandgrown will be at the top of the pile for a while.

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