Clichéd and over-sentimental, middle-of-the-road country rock and pop – warning: contains a second-rate Hank Williams cover.
Apparently, ‘I Can Face The Truth’ is the 28th album by Kansas City-born singer-songwriter, Dana Cooper. Talking about the record, he says: “In all my years of recording I’ve never felt more free or creative in the studio. There is a joyful energy that runs through every song on the album and I’m excited for people to hear it.” Really? He surely can’t be talking about the same album, which starts with a plodding slick and soulless MOR country-rock-by-numbers song called ‘Always Old Friends’ – it’s the sort of clichéd, uninspiring, super-slick and trite radio fodder you could hear day or night by turning the dial in Nashville – and never really gets much better. There’s a moment in the opener, when he declares: “We’ll always be old friends – crazy rock ‘n’ roll friends”, which is supposed to be poignant, but comes across as more toe-curling than a pair of cowboy boots one size too small for you.
The title track is essentially more of the same, but with a slight folk feel and some warm organ – Brother Paul Brown (The Waterboys) plays B3 on the trad blues-rocker ‘Bluebird’ – and ‘Upside Down Day’ is a pleasant enough, but unremarkable, upbeat power-pop song that at least provides some welcome respite from the bland mid-tempo offerings and saccharine ballads that make up most of the album. ‘Humankind’ is one of the latter – backed by plucked acoustic guitar and mournful strings, Cooper tells us: “It’s Christmas time and the old folks are leaving – taking their stories with them,” and then clumsily urges us to “be kind to humankind – you never know what they’ve been through.” It gets worse… suddenly, “It’s New Year’s Day – babies are crying, calling out for their mothers. Each one much like the others.” On an album that’s full of clichés , patronising lyrics and over-sentimentalism, you’re half expecting him to throw in a verse about a dog being for life, not just for Christmas, but sadly it never happens.
Just as you’re thinking Cooper can’t sink any lower, then along comes the awful country-pop-rock of ‘I Know A Girl’ whose lyrics won’t win him many female fans – in the song he recalls “a girl who never wears the same thing twice,” and is “naughtier when she’s nice.” Apparently, “sometimes she even listens to my advice”, and “is a woman who is happy to be my girl…” Cheers for that, then.
Recorded with co-producer and multi-instrumentalist, Dave Coleman in Nashville, all of the songs are original compositions, bar an ill-judged cover version of Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’. Cooper manages to turn one of the greatest songs about heartache and sadness ever written into a pedestrian bar-band chugger. The track that follows it is called ‘Laughing and Crying’ – “I’m laughing and crying at the same time”. After hearing what he does to Williams’ classic, you’ll be doing the same…
The album ends with ‘I’m Just Passing Through’ – do yourself a favour and don’t stop off here.