It’s Gonna Be a Long Night
3 out of 5 stars
This somber, five-song EP emerged out of Ron Pope’s pandemic isolation and being a stay-at-home dad. Instead of getting frustrated, he used that time as an opportunity to reconnect with his muse. Not wanting to wake his three-year-old daughter from her nap, Pope tinkered quietly on his piano. The result is these hushed, sometimes whispered, performances of three originals and two favorite covers.
This is a follow-up to Pope’s similarly styled 2021 year-long project The Builder which also found him in a reflective, but more downbeat mood with regretful, occasionally angry, songs. On tracks such as “If Love Was Easy,” “Look What You’ve Done,” and “Morphine,” the singer/songwriter vented frustrations with his emotions on high boil.
He settles down for these more philosophically optimistic selections, first by stating that the good old days are happening right now as he imagines his baby all grown up later in life. Pope expresses his love for a woman on “Make Me Stay” musing that If the devil comes for me I’d tell him he’s too late/’cause my soul belongs to you/it isn’t mine to give away.
Pope stamps his wistful vocals and velvet touch over Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” downshifting the once snotty rocker to a touching ballad. Muted piano, twinkling picked guitar and the singer’s calm voice combine with violin and delicate backing from a band named The National Parks to transform the song into a poignant and emotional treatise on life’s ups and downs.
The version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” closes the short 20 minute set on a shimmering note. Fellow singer Caroline Spence handles duet vocals as the delicate, heartfelt nature of the ’90s song remains in a performance that doesn’t radically alter the original’s arrangement, yet feels even more intimate and revealing.
It’s an intoxicating way to close out this ruminative collection as Ron Pope sees a light at the end of his once dark tunnel.