Singer-songwriter Ron Pope is proof that hard work really can pay off. Since 2007, Pope has been self-releasing his music and he’s cultivated a loyal following that grows bigger with every release. With a new release nearly every single year over the past decade, Pope has built up a wealth of material amassing millions of streams in the process. His latest album is Work, the follow up to 2016’s Ron Pope and the Nighthawks.
Work is a body of work that continues Pope’s determination to avoid labels. There’s no way of listening to this album and being able to commit it to a certain genre because there are rich influences from a variety of genres. Opening track Bad for Your Health is a moment of Americana rock while second track Let’s Get Stoned takes pointers from the bluesy country sound of Chris Stapleton. For most artists this switch in sound wouldn’t feel authentic but for Pope it does.
At the heart of the album is a passion for music and that is clear from the carefully crafted nature of every track. Title track Work is an acoustic ballad that explores Pope’s approach to his career with him singing, ‘I wanted to work to live, no not just live to work’. Having been an independent artist for the entirety of his career, it’s clear he’s had ups and downs but it feels like with this release he’s found a balance that works for him.
Elsewhere on the record Pope embraces his folkier side on the highlight Someday We’re All Gonna Die, which features a memorable banjo melody. Partner in Crime is a beat-driven mid-tempo Americana number, and Dancing Days is an throwback to traditional Country music.
Work comes to a close with Stick Around, a track that pushes Pope’s raspy vocals into the spotlight. The instrumentation is sparse and it allows Pope to really shine. Personally I’m a fan of more stripped-back music so when Pope does songs like this, I think it’s when he shines the brightest.
Pope has delivered an accomplished and varied album with Work. He wears his influences on his sleeve and makes every genre he touches his own. Pope is someone who has spent his life steeped in music and that is evident from this collection. Work will continue to grow his fanbase and I wouldn’t be surprised if it allows him to hop onto the Country/Americana surge that is currently happening here in the UK.
Track listing: 1. Bad For Your Health 2. Let’s Get Stoned 3. Can’t Stay Here (feat. Katie Schecter) 4. Work 5. The Last 6. Someday We’re All Gonna Die 7. Partner in Crime 8. Dancing Days 9. The Weather (feat. Molly Parden) 10. Stick Around Record Label: Brooklyn Basement Records Release Date: 18th August 2017