Though listed as a country release, Johnny Cooper’s second effort, Follow, is peppered with enough pop and rock to be considered mainstream and playable on a wide spectrum of radio – and it’s a super fun album.
Cooper recently turned 21 years old, and both his music and lyrics reflect that carefree, hopeful spirit, including the ebb and flow of a rocker’s soul bubbling beneath the surface of a bluesy, almost jazzy in some spots, musician maturing in every sense of the word. Cooper’s voice has developed and evened since his debut album, Ignition, in 2007, which was decidedly more traditional country and flavored by some of his muses (for whom he also opened shows): Pat Green, Gary Allan, The Great Divide and Cross Canadian Ragweed.
Follow has the fun, bluesy guitar of Jonny Lang with the pop appeal of some of Ryan Adam’s more upbeat songs – but country, even in the most mainstream and lenient of descriptions, it is not. While Cooper has a strong voice and accomplished instrumental production, the album as a whole seems a bit scattered, reaching, unsure of itself: which describes a typical guy at the age of 21, much less a musician trying on the new skin of a new album after working the music circuit since he was a 16-year old kid in West Texas.
Among the blues riffs, against the rock spine, and amid his often soulful vocals, there is a faint pulse of country in Follow in its earnest, heartfelt need to be heard and respected. It’s a fun album that will likely appeal to a younger crowd – think those who yearn for Taylor Swift to hook up with a decent guy and keep the teardrops off her guitar.
Cooper’s someone to keep your eye on and to listen out for in the future considering the improvement he shows vocally since his debut album and the gelled sound of a new band, hand-picked by Cooper and consisting of friends and their family members. There’s a chemistry there, which with time and maturity could play out for a fantastic third album.
And if nothing else maybe Cooper could hook up with Taylor Swift for a songwriting session. I bet they have a lot in common.
Download this: “Follow,” “Somewhere In Between.”