America the brave, the good ol’ US of A, Land of the Free, Uncle Sam, the Wild West, all creation myths behind an amalgam of (faltered) states that has long substantiated its own ‘histories’ through movies and music. The aspirations and dreams of downtown heroes and failings and railings of uptown zeroes long the artistic palette of many a ‘country’ star.
Into this breach steps Ron Pope with his seventh album Work another collection of hometown vignettes encompassing the booze, the blues, some flooze and sung tales of stung tails.
Pope’s success is an anachronism: he records in analogue (some of his band comprised of emigres from the Gregg Allman Band, Glen Campbell and The Banditos) and yet much of his success has come from ‘modern’ means of distribution/consumption (downloading/streaming/Youtube): the past and present combining to = $$$$. The medium IS the message.
Ron’s the Pope of Dope in ‘Let’s get stoned’ a languid drag on the bush-weed replete with a hazy bliss of saxy horns.
Ron’s the Pope of Mope in the mortality reminding ‘Someday we’re all gonna die’; that point when you realise that ‘time’s a thief’ so the only remedy is ‘pour me a drink’. All been there, Ron.
Ron’s the Pope of no-hope in ‘Work’ a philosophical-autobiographical evocation of ‘working to live beating living to work … anytime’, the simple fact of self-worth paying more than money ever could. Freedom worth every cent.
Ron’s not the Pope of Elope in ‘Can’t stay here’ a brusque brushing off to A.N. Other, whose ‘noise’ needs to go elsewhere, ‘out of sight’ somewhere the ‘tears’ might work. Don’t’ call him, he’ll … call … the police.
With chooglin’ boogie-woogie country and western sounds all the rage right now – commercially and artistically – it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the album that catapults Pope’s (Vatican) broadsides into the hearts of the ‘papal’.