Once A Cowboy – J. Marc Bailey (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Once A Cowboy is a song which sits perfectly between the traditions of country music and more rock-orientated energies, not that the two genres have ever been that far apart. It’s slow groove and reserved pace hides the real kick that the music has, able to spiral up into crashing crescendoes when it wants to make its point and drop back into soothing sonics when it needs to let the lyrics do the talking.

And talk they do. Like any good country guitar-slinger, J. Marc Bailey is a master storyteller, here painting a vivid character, a drifter, an easing-going rambler, a man following a quiet, vagabond life under big skies and loving the life that he has chosen for himself. And even when those close to him tell him that it’s time to settle down, they know in their heart of hearts that he will be off again following the sun over the horizon to see what opportunities he might find there.

And like the character brought to life before us, the song is also a charming and easy-going, one woven from numerous music strands to create its layers of deftly woven sonic textures. The beats are unfussy but solid, the guitar throws about some cool riffs but only when called for, choruses become big affair and it is in the more understated verses that you really get to see the engine work. Pianos chime, pedal guitars shimmer and the six-string adds delicate motifs or weight as required whilst the rhythm section nails the groove to the floor.

A perfect song for the Nashville traditionalist, meaty enough that the alt- scene and the rock fraternity will turn an ear. It is also so melodic and infectious that it will find favour in all manner of other, unexpected, music circles too. Great stuff.

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