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Ron Pope

Work – 2017 (Brooklyn Basement)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Ron Pope

Four albums on, Ron Pope seems well positioned to garner the commercial acclaim that's somehow eluded him up until now. Although critics have begun taking notice, Pope's still in search of that big breakout that's decidedly his due. Given the upbeat entries that initially establish this latest outing, the definitively titled "Work," Pope appears to have taken a decided stance that leans towards those very ends. Indeed, "Bad For Your Health," "Let's Get Stoned" and "Can't Stay Here" suggest the fact that he's a rugged retro rocker who has no problem asserting his authority.

Nevertheless, those who listen no further will deprive themselves of the actual emotional essence of this album. While first impressions may suggest otherwise, Pope is actually a singer with sentimental attachments, capable of conveying a personal perspective that resonates especially well in songs such as "Stick Around," "TheWeather" and "Someday We're All Gonna Die." "This record is made up of deeply personal stories about the roads I walked and the mistakes I made as I tried to learn how to be a man," Pope writes in the liner notes, and the searing, soaring conviction implied in each of these offerings seems to confirm the fact that he succeeded.

Honesty and humility are the essential elements when it comes to any songwriter's success, and in that regard Pope proves he has the credence to make music that resonates even after the final notes fade away. These songs are genuinely affecting, offering insights into an artist who's eager to grapple with all the issues that impede the path that lies before him. If "Work" proved a challenge when it came to laying his emotions bare, there's little doubt as well that it was indeed a labor of love.