Sometimes straddling the lines between genres can be the downfall of artists, but in Ron Pope and the Nighthawks' case, blurring the lines between country and pop works in his favour.
The NYC singer-songwriter, who is now currently based in Nashville, draws away from typical country sounds so it's hard to put him into the same category as the likes of Carrie Underwood, but at the same time it's not the same pop music he created before. It seems that Nashville has had some influence on the writer, but he often draws back into his New York roots with references to snow in Leave You Behind.
The beginning of the record gives us a Sons Of Anarchy vibe, which makes the opening tracks quite relatable to many listeners. Ain't No Angel is a pretty good example of this; a track which would fit on the SoA soundtrack very easily. Pope is clearly quite passionate about this type of music, and it comes across in his vocals. Although this might be a slightly experimental EP for him, it is definitely pulled off well.
One of the best tracks on the record is Hell Or High Water. This Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque track is catchy and draws the listener in straight away with its bouncy piano and big brass horns.
At times the image Pope attempts to build for himself, such as the one in One Shot Of Whiskey as he sings 'give me one shot of whiskey, and two lines of cocaine', is pretty unbelievable. He doesn't quite come across as bar-brawling country boy that he is trying to make himself out to be in this track. Especially when, quite quickly after this line he explains how he is longing to be home again for Christmas - two quite conflicting sentiments in a short amount of time.
Bad Intentions demonstrates a sting of confidence in Ron Pope's new adventure with his band The Nighthawks. It's lazy, swing-filled horns and swooning lyrical tone sets new heights for the record.
If Ron Pope and The Nighthawks plan on pursuing this genre of music, they are definitely on the right track. However, some of the ballads on the record do let it down. But this is not to say that they are indefinitely bad tracks, they just don't seem to work well alongside big tracks like Hell Or High Water. With a little bit of fine-tuning, and some more confidence-bellowing tracks, they could be in for a winner.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.