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The Goat Roper Rodeo Band The Goat Roper Rodeo Band
Album: Cosmic Country Blue
Label: Aveline
Tracks: 12

Those naughty North Wales juke jointin' country blues boys, The Goat Roper Rodeo Band, have at last unleashed their sophomore album upon a mostly unsuspecting public, and boy is "Cosmic Country Blue" a shot in the arm for the americana genre as a whole! It's full of vitality, irrepressible energy, great tunes, and some bloody fine playing. An album that belies their young years, with some staggeringly mature writing and an ear for a teasing hook, tender harmony, or a killer lick.

If you've seen the band live at all (and if not, why not?!), then you will know that their show is a tour-de-force. If you wanna keep up with these boys then you'll need a mixture of lucozade, pro-plus and a new set of legs! What they do is simple really. They give their audience a great show. And what they've managed to do here, with the the help of some superb production by Romeo Stodart (The Magic Numbers), is replicate the feel and atmosphere of the live experience and bring it rather welcomingly, full on into your home.

Take a listen to "Mean Man" and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Full tilt acoustic country rockin'. A rattling pace, three prong vocals - the Everly Brothers on speed. Or in this case tea! There's no hanging back here, a sub 3 minute back porch high speed romp that sums up exactly what the Goat Roper Roper boys are all about. And they do with style, skill and no little musical nous. "I Got Room", "Stick It On Red" and "Rhythm Of Love" are slices of adrenaline charged americ-oustic tune-age guaranteed to get those feet moving involuntarily in all sorts of directions.

But it's not all high-octane shenanigans - oh no! On "Old Joanna" the pace is slowed right down, and it's all heartbreak, doom and gloom and the sweetest harmonies this side of the Cadbury factory!

Where the Goat Ropers score big is their innate ability to hone an identifiable sound and feel that is immediately recognisable as their own. This will over the years become an enormous asset to them, but naturally it also means that they have to come up with the proverbial musical goods! And on the evidence of this album they're going to have no worries on that score. The maturity shown on a song like "My Sweet Woman", for instance, is quite remarkable. They can feel that often less is more and that is exemplified perfectly here where sparing acoustic guitar and dual vocals are given space to breathe. It's a beautiful slow blues-tinged, sacharrine-soaked ballad that just bathes the listener in a warm glow of contentment. No one-trick goats here then.

"Cosmic Country Blue" is a great introduction to a band that are standing on their own two musical feet, plying a totally original brand of Americana that will make you smile, laugh and cry in all the right places. Bearing in mind their tender years, the Goat Roper Rodeo Band are clearly going in the right direction, and that direction could lead all the way to the top.

Ken Brown