Award-winning singer-songwriter Dana Cooper sounds like he's been in the business forever, and no wonder -- his first recording was released on Elektra way back in 1973. And Cooper is no stranger to accolades: His 1997 Compass Records CD Miracle Mile was nominated for a Nashville Music Award, and was listed in Performing Songwriter Magazine's top 12 DIY recordings.
Cooper's latest, Made of Mud, features 10 original compositions. Although the self-produced album sounds slick, the sonic sparkle never detracts from the music or lyrics.MUD gives several nods to the "smart" pop music of the 1970s. With a rhythmic acoustic guitar style and a chameleon voice, Cooper reminds me of both Glen Frey and John David Souther in their prime.
Opener "Step Into the Light," is an uptempo political pop number featuring a John Hiatt-esque yodel. "Sit This One Out" and "Comic Tragedy" both lament the modern quest for money and power. But not all the tunes are political. Cooper's voice and musical sensibility are well suited to romantic numbers as well. "Bird on the Wing" is a country-flavored love song in 3/4 time, while "Right Out Loud" is a classic ballad with anthemic qualities.
The only track not penned by Cooper is a driving acoustic cover of Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd." His version of the classic is so good I wanted to hear more songs like it. Cooper's own "Death Is a Door" fit the bill nicely; the song has all the markings of a high 'n' lonesome, old-time chestnut.
You can hear Cooper make live Mud on Wednesday, March 29, at the Middle Earth Music Hall in Bradford.