Caddy Cooper tempts you to ‘Get Onboard’ in the first few bars of the aptly named opening track on OUTSIDE THE WIRE. This is quite possibly the best invite you will get all year to join an enticing lady on her ambitious journey through the trials and tribulations of a heady mix of real country, sultry blues and a phenomenal stab at some classic storytelling folk. On a record sumptuously merging the smitten vocals of Caddy with stacks of splendid playing and spiritedly led by lashings of pedal steel, the longevity peels away to reveal an artist hell-bent on doing things the right way and coming up trumps.
This album, a follow up to 2014’s SNAPSHOT, is bursting at the seams with songs designed to melt, engage and enthral the listener. The treasure trove of glorious tracks effortlessly moves through a haze of late night lounge jazz blues onto more feet shuffling rock n’ roll, always paying the utmost respect to the style of the traditional songbook. What makes this album even more remarkable is that all fifteen tracks are written by Caddy who is developing quite an entertainment profile since venturing far and wide from her West Australian home.
Midway through this hefty release that breaks the hour mark, you will be hard pushed not to prevent a tear from squeezing out when Caddy slips into folk mode to spin the tale of lost love in the moving ‘Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter’. Revisiting a well told theme of young boy leaves his love to go to war works wonders to give this record real lyrical substance and you can detect a hint of Aussie twang in Caddy’s voice as her subject makes the futile trek from Albany to Gallipoli.
The rolling rhythm of the opening track, with its railroad and wider metaphorical vibes, is the perfect opener before Caddy hits the laid back zone to guide the early stages of the record right into the dying embers of a late night soiree with that proverbial empty glass. ‘An Hour or Two’, ‘Don’t Say We’re Through’ and ‘Outside the Wire’ are all from a similar mould and have a welcoming re-assurance that the deeper into the evening we go, the richer the music becomes. Just when we maybe need a shot in the arm, Caddy and the band serve up a dish of feat tapping roll n’ roll blues with the guitar and piano led number ‘I Be Leavin’ You’.
The second part of the record sees Caddy keep the sound fresh with a further explorative approach, while still retaining a sound that is both anchored in the past and a vital ally in nurturing authenticity in the contemporary world. Instruments are ditched and replaced by sparkling backing harmonies in the 'a cappella' formatted ‘Love You in the Morning’ and a laid back island beat relieves the tension a touch in ‘Sunshine Hot’. More jazz blues materialises in ‘London Town’, perhaps a nod to the UK which is currenly Caddy’s base and a location, alongside her homeland Australia, where the album was recorded.
Caddy pays the utmost respect to Dave Hayward, who combined the production duties with continual playing of the prevalent pedal steel, rampant in parts and more subtle in tracks such as ‘Further We Got to Fall’. This song sees one of a couple of vocal contributions from Paul Carella and wanders into duet territory. However there is little doubt that this record is vocally owned by Caddy, with their cutting presence mixing perennial charm with advocated purpose. There is a slight inch in the pop direction with the soulful shoulder moving ‘One Step at a Time’ and while still retaining a bluesy essence, ‘Last Night’s Lover’ possesses a modern backbeat. Although the traditional country sounding song ‘Far to Go’ flies the flag in the final stages there is a slight feel that the album has run its course as we wind down with the concluding numbers ‘My World and Everything in it’ and ‘Crosswind’. This certainly does not detract from the many fine qualities in the preceding tracks.
OUTSIDE THE WIRE is a restless, feverish and marvellous album release by a talented artist determined to buck the trend. Caddy Cooper has an ear for a great sound and the skill to produce a superlative record successful in steering its content in the right direction for many discerning fans of roots music.