At the tender age of thirteen Ron Pope was sat in a room while his mother was told by his teacher that he would most likely end up end up spending the rest of his life in prison if something didn’t change. Perhaps spurned on by this threat or in an act of defiance, Pope began writing songs and playing music that same year and in his own words ‘it’s been mostly uphill ever since’.
Since whatever it was that Pope used to do to offend his teachers he has spent years carving himself a niche within the music world with his own two hands. Over the last few years he has worked tirelessly to expand upon his work and broaden his horizons and the result has been absolutely astounding. Work is a stunning and deeply evocative album that has been brought to life over years of hard work and heartache. It storms to life in a boisterous and raucous song called Bad for Your Health which gets your feet stomping and your blood pumping. Rich, almost gospel choir harmonies ring out above Pope’s rock and brass tunes that seem almost as contagious and swinging as a Bellowhead tune. Vigorous and resonant it’s as though a cloud of music has burst onto the scene and it’s pouring out tunes around you. It’s a beautiful and busy opening that is exemplary of Pope’s raw power and dissipates gradually and allows the rest of his stunning album to take form.
Pope’s music simmers under the surface of his every track as his husky vocals crackle to life like the needle as it lands on your favourite record. It’s rich and warming and there is something deeply comforting within it. There is a reflective element to his voice that is inspiring – it’s honest, tender and kind which means his words go straight to your heart and his messages ring clear in your head like a bell. Sharing its name with the album, Work is one of the most stunning songs on the album as it details his teachers threat alongside his burning desire to work to live, not live to work. This is something that we have almost all certainly faced in our lives and more than likely still do on a daily basis. However, as you listen to Pope reason out life you can’t help but feel a fire igniting somewhere deep within and you get a gentle reminder that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Work is an absolutely breathtaking album that is rich and versatile; boiling over with ardent guitar melodies, arching fiddle tunes, roaring bass and deep and echoing drum beats. Pope’s powerful words are carried but his emotive voice and his soulful harmonies and they etch themselves effortlessly into your heart.
RON POPE LIVE IN THE UK
November 5 – London, UK – The Garage
November 6 – Manchester, UK – Academy 3
Review by Joe Knipe