Artist: Robbie Cooper
CD Review: DROWNING IN REALITY
By: Dan Brisebois
A fresh approach to adult rock is what Robbie Cooper displays in abundance on his third independent release, DROWNING IN REALITY. This Toronto native has added fuel to pop music's flame, and is on the brink of finally having the mainstream come around to his way of thinking.
His self-proclamation of "Genesis meets the Beatles" isn't far off the mark. Simple hooks and melodies are given a progressive upgrade and the end result is easily one of the year's best indie albums. Intense guitar work laced with full horns arrangements are good examples of what gives the album a refreshing approach to adult rock. He mastered his style after working in and around the Ontario circuit for several years, and if a similarity between him and Phil Collins is made, it shouldn't come as a surprise. A good portion of his resume includes work with a Genesis tribute band.
The lead off track "Habits Are Changing" is almost a prophetic statement towards the disc. Progressive and not willing to stay in one place, Cooper's experimentation throughout the disc is neatly crafted with strong songwriting where he explores a variety of topics. Though there's a message in the lyrics, the fact it's not a 'statement' gives the disc a genuine feel too often lacking on the Canadian scene.
"Walk on Water", "She Leaves Forever", and "Kicked Inside" all show a synthesized, haunting aura about them at times, without brooding or depressing. Serious with emotion and edge, "Calling On Me" has a jazz-inspired bass backbeat, but also features an orchestral arrangement that makes Robbie Cooper one of the most diverse and experimental independent artists today.
The only cover on the disc is a unique take of the Neil Diamond cover "Solitary Man". The more up-tempo energy makes it one of the highlights of what's already an incredibly strong album from beginning to end.
Cooper's quietly but surely going to be redefining what we think of as popular music. There really isn't one weak track on the entire album. This is just one of those discs that naturally and almost subconsciously makes its way into your regular playlist. And it belongs on it. A music collection just doesn't seem complete until DROWNING IN REALITY is in it.