Some artists can take quite some time in releasing their second album, but rarely as long as ten years. Note I say releasing, not recording. The fact is that the Swedish-born country singer actually intended for this to appear in 2006. Everything was mastered, but then things sort of got in the way. So it went on the shelf and there it remained while, in the interim, kicking off with ‘Blood Relatives’ in 2010, Pope released his third, fourth, fifth and even sixth set of recordings. Now, however, he’s finally decided to dust it off and present it to the world’s ears. During that time, he’s made a fair name for himself in country and Americana circles, both at home and in Europe and America, so there’s actually probably more interest in it now than there would have been back then. There’s also been some changes. These days his vocals have a raspier Rod Stewart-like edge while his most recent album, ‘Sticks In The Throat’, leans heavily on a punchy country rock, and at times bluesier, direction with some muscular electric guitar work. Back then, however, the voice was higher and less throaty, to the extent that, although the nascent Stewart tones and sound are evident on ‘Talk of the Town’, on the opening title track he could easily be mistaken for some twangsome toned female Southern country singer. Soaked in pedal steel, the track also reveals a old school honky tonk country sound that you could easily imagine been sung by both Gram and Emmylou or George Jones.
And, although ‘My Heart Don’t Lie’ has echoes of The Band, and ‘At The End of the Week’ and ‘I Light Up A Candle’ embrace early Eagles country rock, that’s very much the sound throughout, notably so on the steel and saloon piano led ‘I Think I Belong To You’ and the mid-tempo waltzes ‘Bless These Arms of Mine’ and ‘Young Girl’.
Closing with the tear-stained ballad ‘If Ties Don’t Bind’, this may be a decade old, but, although I’m not suggesting it’s in the same league, it has the same timeless feel as albums like ‘Grievous Angel’, ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ or ‘Heart Like A Wheel’ and could just as easily be the latest offering from one of the better retro country revival outfits doing the rounds at the moment.