Land of Heroes
Ray Cooper highlights the beauty of the cello in Land of Heroes whilst paying homage to his inspirations and shining a spotlight on his ability as a multi-instrumentalist. Cooper is credited with singing and playing all the instruments on his fourth studio album since pursuing a solo career away from the Oysterband. His blend of traditional instrumentation and modern techniques is at the core of this album, a juxtaposition we’re introduced to on the track Whistleblower. The drone of the cello provides a strong foundation as it couples with an acoustic guitar whilst the lyrics are rhythmically spoken rather than sung. Circles really showcases the versatility and the potential the cello has as a lead instrument, how Copper works that instrument is truly unrivalled. There’s a pop sensibility to it in the melodies, the way in which they stick in your mind. It’s easy to hear Coopers Gaelic roots which shine through in Canada Hill whilst the feel of We Need More Horses takes Cooper back to his days with the Oysterband. Cooper, who wrote and recorded the record during Lockdown addresses the situation in Eyes of Mercy, the arpeggiated guitar ballad which features Godel’s vocal harmonies and a haunting cello counter-melody. It’s a record that shall take time to digest but one you shall wish to play over and over again as you pick out the intricate details within Coopers arrangement and production. Recorded in Sweden during lockdown it is clear that Cooper was inspired by his nordic surroundings and the uncertainty of the world we were living in. ‘Land of Heroes’ proves to be an exceptional album from an awe-inspiring musician and a must in any music lovers collection.