The last time we heard from soulful troubadour Reuben Koops, he was flying high off the back of a successful debut album, and the ‘Slate EP‘ which followed further cemented Koops as a promising artist. Assuring personal truths and emotional sincerity, his songs are tinged with sunny euphoric tones and are given equal luminosity through crooning folk-pop vocals. Koops now returns, armed with some of his best material to date, with a new release of a higher calibre but nonetheless resonant.
Koops is a songwriter who possesses all the passion and charm of a young James Morrison, backed by a resounding musicality that could echo his contemporary, James Bay. Like Bay, Koops’ music resides both in the acoustic realms of americana and the more pop-minded but gritty side of rock. Title track ‘Higher Ground‘ is a pep-talk on never giving up: “This rain keeps bucketing down, and this storm keeps knocking me around…but I’m holding out believing, searching for that higher ground,” Koops optimistically delivers. Keys, bass and snappy percussion is the basis for the track, with organ and guitars also adding to the mix; the track’s driving rhythm maintains focus on Koops’ words without becoming too distracting and sweet melodies interlace a propelling vigour.
‘Something To Believe In‘ follows a similar path, shimmying into play with a grooving bass and drum combo, thrown forward with memorable riffs and infectious vocal hooks, it’s an upbeat catchy tune that will burrow itself into the mind and leave its listener singing its hook over and over: “I can’t take it, won’t you save me / Oh, give this life some kind of meaning / ‘Cause I’m waiting and I’m praying / Give me something to believe in.”
‘Lady On A Train‘ is the most endearing moment of the collection; a real highlight. Only light instrumentation graces the track, allowing each yearning thought from Koops to flourish in an adoring fashion as he details an encounter with a lady he witnessed on a train. Musing romantically about what they could be, if only he could pluck up the courage to ask her for her name. Latter tracks like ‘You and I‘ is more of the same – slow paced and romantic – so it’s a relief when final track ‘Labour Of Love‘ comes hitting in. With a strong percussive beat and a fast-picked guitar, the revelrous swing will get those feet moving and shoulders swaying.
All the tracks on the record are particularly inclined to Koops’ state of mind and hopeful nature, with desire and longing depicted as central elements to the themes surrounding its lyrical beating heart. Yet if we were to draw any fault, it’s to the scope of his songwriting, as often Koops plays it too safe – but as with the majority of pop lyricism, themes most likely centre around overcoming obstacles and relationships, both are areas in which Koops eloquently excels at on this release.
What Koops shares on this EP may not be groundbreaking but it is a display of a confident artist, growing and maturing his craft by noble means. For emotive lyrics, empowering messages, soulful vocals and intense musicality are the pillars of which any good musician strives to grasp. The ‘Higher Ground EP’ is one for those records that we’ll always go to when we need a pick me up, or when we need to satisfy our inner hopeless romantic.
The new ‘Higher Ground EP’ is out now – and available to purchase on iTunes here.
Photo Credit: Leonardo Mascaro