Ross Cooper Offers Lesson in Songwriting with ‘Chasing Old Highs’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Ross Cooper’s story is quite a bit different than that of most musicians. Before turning his attention to songwriting, he rode broncos in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. A knee injury brought an end to his career in the rodeo. However, that particular misfortune led him to songwriting.

He released two albums before Chasing Old Highs earlier this year. The album is being re-released as a deluxe edition with two new tracks “Indian Summer” and “Cowboy Things”. Of “Indian Summer”, Cooper said, “It’s one of those songs that’s always stayed in the back of my head. I’ve caught myself singing it at random and knew it was time to bring it to life.” 

Bringing the song to life was a good idea. It is a story of lost love that features some some twangy guitar and some Tex-Mex accordion in the background. He conveys the emotion of the song so well that you can’t help but feel it hit you right in the heart.

The album features a couple of songs that are easy to sing. “Cowboy Picture Show” paints a picture of people going to a drive-in to see a cowboy movie where popcorn only costs a nickel. The melody is catchy and fitting for a honky tonk. The chorus is so catchy and memorable that you can’t help but sing along. “Hello Sunshine” is another one that will have you singing along. The melody features some distorted guitar and a rhythm that will get you moving. Then he gets to the chorus and you find yourself singing, “I think I’ll spend the afternoon hanging out with my old friends. Hello sunshine. It’s been a long time. Come on in.”

The title track is a dose of realism from Cooper’s experience in the rodeo, but if you didn’t know any better, it would be easy to think this is a song that portrays the life of a musician on the road. At the beginning of the song, he muses, “Am I just another fool who thinks he can do this forever? These cheap motels are starting to feel like home.” Cooper wonders if the grind of life in the rodeo is worth the toll it takes on him as he’s “chasing old highs and hitting new lows.” Even if you’ve never ridden a horse or been to a rodeo, it’s easy to feel the regret in this song.

You can hear some Tom Petty in some of these melodies. Like Petty, Cooper has no problem writing melodies that are equal parts twang and rock and roll. Also like Petty, he has the ability to write a chorus that stays in your head.

Chasing Old Highs Deluxe Edition by Ross Cooper is an excellent lesson in songwriting. He presents vivid images in great melodies and does it all in a voice that doesn’t strain. It shows that he made the right career choice after he was no longer able to ride in rodeos.

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