Dana Cooper - The Ghost Of Tucumcari



In a career that stretches back over fifty years and encompasses more than 30 albums, singer-songwriter Dana Cooper has perfected the art of how to captivate the listener; he invites you into his songs with his ability to evoke feelings of isolation and loss, forgiveness and hope, love, and joy. The mark of a good songwriter is to pen something intensely personal that leaves enough space for listeners to project their own emotions or experiences upon it. That was my first impression listening to Dana’s latest album. A record that reveals that Dana Cooper is driven by his muse, chasing down the whisperings of his musical genius around every corner. He is joined by a star-studded group of singers and musicians including co-producer Dave Coleman (electric guitar, lap steel, acoustic guitar, keyboards), Josh Leo (electric guitar), Darden Smith (piano), Chris Benelli (drums, percussion), David Francis (upright, electric bass), Rick Lonow (drums, percussion). Additionally, Lyle Lovett, Hayes Carll, Susan Gibson, Mando Saenz, Darden Smith, Shake Russell, Libby Koch and others, all lend their voices to the project. It’s a gorgeous listen, and proof that successful collaborations don’t always have to mean the standard duets that many might have anticipated.

The simplicity of Beauty And Ruin conceals the intricate sheer pain and agony of losing a long-term lover. The haunting acoustic guitar picking leads into the beautiful background harmonies of Mando Saenz and David Starr as heartbreaking reminisces gently unfurl. There’s a rare delicacy to Song For Myself, an exquisite acoustic ballad featuring the ethereal vocals of Gillian Tuite. The mid-tempo Start The World Again has a tender tentativeness as the lyrics declare with gentle persuasion that it’s never too late for new beginnings. Dana puts forth a series of striking thoughts with the compassionate Children Of A Common Mother, a folky-pop number with smooth harmonies courtesy of Libby Koch and Shake Russell. 

Rocked In A Country Cradle finds Dana walking the line between country and rock’n’roll with a vivid, ambitious pace and a natural musical inclination, as he recalls growing up in the 1950s and 1960s on a diet of Your Cheatin’ Heart, Rock Around The Clock, Mystery Train, I Walk The Line, A Hard Day’s Night and Together Again. This is a song that definitely reverberated with me. The rousing revival of This Land Is Your Land, features an all-star group of singers including Lovett, Carll, Gibson, Smith and Russell, as Dana demonstrates his mastery of harmonica alongside the exuberant vocals. Perhaps the most inspiring song on this wide-ranging collection of should-be classics is the persuasive What Is Love Waiting For. Open your being to the beautifully written lyrics, the soothing sounds of the instruments that express their own honesty in every note, to go along with Dana’s gentle voice. Dana Cooper is a songwriter’s songwriter and the truth of it is borne out utterly by this captivating album.


May 2024