Ross Cooper was drawn to both Americana and the music of Ryan Adams because of the poetic songwriting. It’s a commitment that shines through on his latest album Give It Time. It is a stripped back album, one that calls to mind the plain spoken poetry of Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark. It is a robust album, one layered with complexities and melodic diversity that portends a much older and more experienced artist. Give It Time bears all the hallmarks of a brilliant artist on the cusp of an equally genius career.
“What don’t kill us first my friends, give it time, give it time, give it time, just give it time,” he sighs on the opening title track. It’s the sort of fatalistic look at daily life that once would have found airplay between Waylon Jennings’ “Drinkin’ and Dreaming” and Dan Sealss “Big Wheels in the Moonlight.” Cooper has a gift of twisting a lyrics as cleanly and sharply as a knife. “If I had tricks I’d use them too,” he admits bitterly to a fickle lover on “Mary.”
Give It Time has the sparse production common in a genre known for its high skill and low production budgets, but Cooper makes the most of every note. The bitterness of “Mary” is offset by a surf-rock inspired melody. “It Might Be Love” sets the sweetest of Cooper’s vocals against a sumptuous, steel laden waltz. “Dreamers” hints at rockabilly, as Cooper creates an anthem for anyone struggling to live their dreams. “Girl’s From the Diner” takes the melody to a darker level, one fitting a tale of barroom shenanigans and murder. There are three murder ballads on the album. The best of these, “Witches” is also the best song on the album. The song pits the protagonist against the titular witches in a hunt to avenge his brother’s death. “Give It Time” is an album dedicated to stories, and most are worth more than a second listen.
Summer is the only season for which there must be a song. Every year countless radio hours are devoted to the debate of what one song is the song of the summer. Give it Time is more an album of spring. Spring is a time of renewal, a time when we decide which resolutions break and which we keep, a time to prepare for the rest of the year. Give it Time is an album to listen to while mulling things over, while preparing a garden for later harvest, for making plans. It’s the kind of album you can put in at the beginning of a lengthening evening and it will take you somewhere else by the time darkness falls.