The worst thing for FM radio is FM radio. At least here in Utah you will find one of five artists playing at any given time; these are Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Shawn Mendez, The Chainsmokers, and One Direction in its various splintered forms. This is what sane people would refer to as Hell. About a year ago, thanks to alternative media, I stumbled across British artist JP Cooper’s EP When the Darkness Comes. After one listen to the title track I was sold. And just over a year later he released his first full-length album, Raised Under Grey Skies.
The album is an eclectic grouping of musical influences which begins with an acoustic tribute to a maternal figure in the title track before going to his single, September Song, a happy pop song saved from its cliché by his soulful vocals which carry the album all the way through. The influences vary from 60’s style pop in All this Love to gospel-inspired Passport Home to baby-making R&B with The Only Reason. Cooper never leaves you bored with the same sound in any consecutive song.
Lyrically the album is of interest as well. While his vocal ability at times makes you forget he’s actually saying words, Cooper, whose name appears in the writing credit of every song, tells stories that go beyond the surface of the traditional pop musician without the songs getting full of themselves. His song Wait illustrates the struggle of being in a failing relationship but not ready to let go for the pain it would cause his significant other. Closer is a beautiful song about Cooper’s son and the love and admiration he has for him – seriously, if you listen and don’t crack a smile you’re wrong.
So take a break from the radio or your top 40 playlist and listen to soulful vocals honest with their influences and lyrics. JP Cooper is a welcome addition to my musical collection and will remain on repeat for the foreseeable future.