Red Beet Records has announce the release of Peter Cooper’s new record, Opening Day, set for Tuesday, September 10. (There will be a Nashville CD release show on Friday Sept. 13 at the Station Inn.) This is Peter’s third solo release, his finest yet — and that’s saying something.
These songs – nine originals and two gorgeous covers – are Peter at the absolute peak of his artistry.
Coming fast on the heels of his recent duo release with Eric Brace (The Comeback Album), this new record will be Peter’s sixth in five years (three duo, three solo), an extraordinary output for a fellow who is also senior music writer at Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper; a professor of country music history at Vanderbilt University; a regular television commentator on country music for CNN, BBC, and CMT; a guest DJ on WSM 650-AM and on Sirius/XM’s “Outlaw Country”; and more. Really. We could go on and on, but we’re here to tell you about Opening Day.
It’s a warmhearted, lyrical, passionate, thoughtful, beautiful work, with Peter augmenting his singing and guitar playing with some of the best musical accompanists in Nashville: Lloyd Green (75-year-old pedal steel hall-of-famer who graces all of Peter’s work), Richard Bennett (guitarist extraordinaire and member of the Mark Knopfler band), Jen Gunderman (keyboardist extraordinaire and member of the Sheryl Crow band), as well as drummers Paul Griffith and Pat McInerney, bassists Dave Jacques (John Prine’s guy), Dave Roe (Johnny Cash’s longtime guy), and Mark Fain (Ricky Skaggs’ longtime guy), percussionist/mandolinist Kieran Kane (the O’Kanes, Kane-Welch-Kaplin), and backing vocals from Julie Lee and Peter’s duo partner Eric Brace. All the sounds were beautifully captured and mixed by Thomm Jutz, (longtime guitarist with Nanci Griffith), whose studio just outside Nashville was where the magic happened. Thomm also added his sublime guitar playing and backing vocals to these songs.
Ah, the songs! May we suggest that Opening Day be approached like a book of interconnected short stories? With just a slight nudge to the imagination, characters from one song turn up in others. Perhaps Grandma in “Grandma’s Tattoo” is grown up Jenny from “Jenny Died at 25.” Both songs examine lost youth and the passage of time, but in strikingly different ways. “What happened to the girl on the Tilt-a-Whirl by the beach that summer day?” Peter asks in “Grandma’s Tattoo.” The answer to that is, “life happened.” As it did to the fellow in “Feels Like Home,” who could be the clear-eyed older version of the boy in “A Million Miles to the City,” a vintage Tom T. Hall composition that Peter covers here. And life has clearly happened to the withdrawn gentleman in the other cover tune on the record, “Birches,” by the late Bill Morrissey. He could be the aged version of the soldier in “Quiet Little War,” who uses technology to remain half a world away from the battle, and who goes home at sundown and ponders (or doesn’t ponder) his day at the office. (And by the way, when was the last time you heard a great song about drone warfare? Exactly.)
As always though, Peter’s greatest creation is himself. In songs like “Much Better Now,” “Distraction,” and “Part Time,” he adds to his growing list of autobiographical songs that are bravely honest and deeply personal, while effortlessly doing that thing that great art does: taking the intimate and making it universal. The boy in the bleachers on the cover and in the lyrics of the title track is indeed Peter, but he’s all of us, rooting for an underdog, hoping things will get better, vainly trying to push back time and hold on to the moment for just a moment longer. With Opening Day, we can do just that.
Pre-order Opening Day via the Red Beet website by clicking here.
Source: Redbeat Records
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