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Jack Cooper | CD review | 2004

JACK COOPER - Turn the Light Off (My Dad Recordings - 19/07/04)

Review by Dawn

The phrase 'insanely catchy' is one bandied about all too frequently in music journalism circles, but when it comes to Jack Cooper's songs you'd be more insane were you not to use it.

Combine the acoustic guitar of Tom McRae, the piano of Ben Folds and the vocal harmonies of the Beatles or the Beach Boys and you'll have some idea of Cooper's slightly unusual sound; add a hint of his Twisted Nerve cohorts Badly Drawn Boy and Aidan Smith and you'll be even closer. And yet although at various times the Blackpool boy's songs bring such artists to mind, he also succeeds in achieving a sound and a style all of his very own.

Although relatively uncomplex, Cooper's lyrics also regularly raise a wry smile, as demonstrated by the EP's wonderfully defiant opening ("Lord knows I try but I can't back down, I know I'm right"), whilst after only one listen his glorious vocal harmonies and charming yet stirring melodies take up residence in your mind and simply refuse to be shifted.

Turn the Light Off comes straight from the Aidan Smith school of jaunty piano playing, but where Smith rarely builds on this, Cooper has graduated with honours thanks to the addition of an organ and drums as defiant as the aforementioned first line, both of which give a much fuller sound.

In complete contrast, Sleepsleepsleep displays Cooper's underlying vulnerability as he takes songwriting back to basics with a lethargic lament closest to Tom McRae's spellbinding Streetlight in both its vocal style and straightforward guitar melody. Anyone able to transform such a seemingly mundane topic into such an enchanting song is obviously something quite special and, indeed, Cooper's lyrics show a talent beyond his years in the apparently effortless way in which his rhymes and melody intertwine in a manner previously perfected by the likes of Brendan Benson.

So follow Jack Cooper's instructions and turn the light off, and the stereo too if you wish. But try as you may, you still won't manage to dislodge his luscious harmonies from inside your head. Not that you'd want to...

Many thanks to Jack and Paul. Visit www.myspace.com/BeepSeals for Jack's current musical incarnation.

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