Ray Cooper: Between The Golden Age and The Promised Land

review ray cooper x1 cong

Cooper is known to folk fans as Chopper: he joined Oysterband in 1987 after bassist Ian Kearey left, himself leaving the band at the end of the Ragged Kingdom tour in February 2013, to pursue a solo career. (He was also in 3 Mustaphas 3 and OK Jive).

In a self-penned biography, Cooper says of his family, “Scottish mum, English dad, Irish ancestral connections,” and it’s the Irish that comes to the fore in this album, both because it sounds vaguely Celtic but also because the homely lyrics and directness — the lyrics are straightforward — reminded us of the Saw Doctors and their sometime member and solo performer Padraig Stevens.

Topics covered vary: opening track Drunk On Youth is about swimming drunk while The Unknown Soldier Has A Name fills in the story of a man lying dead, and not getting many visitors. Little Flame reflects Cooper’s early love of world music, adding an eastern tinge to the sound. Valentine’s Day is one of the songs that sails close to the Saw Docs, telling the story of a man buying roses for his partner after 10 years together, “better the devil you’re knowing that the angel you just met” suggesting the path of true love has not always been smooth.

It’s folk but with Cooper’s spin on it: he plays all the instruments, with mandolin, cello, guitar and piano, so it sounds exactly like he wants it.
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