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Dana Cooper

MADE OF MUD • Dana Cooper

This veteran song poet is a self-contained road warrior--a man of many tunes and tunings, and a right hand few guitarists will ever know. Sharp eyes in the head on his shoulders, a droll sense of humor and the weathered heart of a person who's spent a lot of his life on the road alone. His voice speaks to your center with its pure clarity, but then it breaks and soars like a bird that flies into a strong wind. His music is vital, and live you see him channel all his energy into the song. The songs are smart, but they come from his heart.

Although he's got a full band approach to acoustic guitar, he's known often to play in duo with Shake Russell who co-wrote the CD opener, "Step into the Light." At least on the last two records he's also found a great partner in multi-instrumentalist producer Richard McLaurin. (See our review of Harry Truman Built a Road.) Speaking of partners, Linda Marks did her usual elevated job on the CD design, and also co-wrote "Empty Glass." The only other co-write is with songsmith Michael Lille, the beautiful closer, "World of Hurt." Except for an original take on Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd," Dana wrote the rest of the songs alone. He writes life songs more than love songs, but "Bird on the Wing" is a lovely exception.

Unless it's his own choice, I couldn't tell you why this incredible singer songwriter is not being pushed by one of several likely labels. He tours like hell, and is one of the most consistent writers and performers genre wide. He throws down every night. Even when it's in a rack, he can get hellacious things out of a harmonica, and there are some great harp tracks on this disc.

Several songs obliquely reference the post 9/11 world we're living in, but not from a soapbox. He and Michael Lille plaintively paint the story of a soldier who

remembers his father
how he fought for peace on earth
just to live
in a world of hurt

Dana Cooper is a rare example of the real thing that's touring the country on a regular basis. Twenty-somethings who are lightweight versions of Van Morrison or James Taylor or the Nick Drake retreads, they're fine. But see Dana Cooper when he comes to your town. In the meantime, check our man out on the Listen page, and pick up a copy of Made of Mud.
• Frank Goodman

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