Before I had done any substantial travelling outside of my home province of “Onterrible,” and had the opportunity to experience the charm of the Prairies myself, someone once told me that the most lively Canadian music scene can be found nestled in what to me at the time was the unsuspecting enclave of Saskatoon. Fast forward some years later, and I found myself similarly enamoured once more, this time via singer-songwriter Dylan Cooper’s self-titled EP, recorded as it was on the outskirts of Saskatoon.
Released September 2018, the Dylan Cooper EP which explodes with spirit, depth and soul rejuvenating instrumentals, simultaneously evokes playful yet fleeting melancholia and a flat out joyful, carefree optimism, the likes of which, at times remind me very much of the beloved Michael Hurley. If you are one of those folks with very little time or a short attention span, it takes nothing more than a quick watch of Cooper’s acoustic version of my favourite track “Town of No Highway” to realize there is really no better way to spend your time than listening to this album.
Throughout this not quite folk, not quite country EP, Cooper displays a much appreciated penchant for ripping songs wide open with instrumental interludes that range from the jaunty, twangy “Where Was I,” to the funky, sax-driven “Don’t Let These Words Weigh You Down,” to the entirely instrumental, acoustic “Second Winter,” to the almost Spanish style outro of “Making Waves in the Cold,” that basically just make you happy to be alive. Underneath it all, the EP is stapled down by some of the most infectious acoustic riffs and finger picking I have heard in a long time, such as that which render “Town of No Highway” amazing.
While things cool off a bit with tracks like “Seasons” and “Soon,” there is no shortage of pleasant curveballs such as the bluesy “Voices,” which closes out the album with an air of refinement. Although I have waxed romantic on their Prairie charm, it would be a mistake to overemphasize this EP, and Cooper’s songwriting ability solely with a particular time and place, as both are more dynamic and timeless than a singular regional sound.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Mike Milito