Ron Pope | Bone Structure | Brooklyn Basement Records
3 ½ out of 5 stars
John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Nashville-based singer/songwriter Ron Pope can certainly attest to that fact. After recording an entire album’s worth of material, he abruptly abandoned the project after he became a father last year.
“When I became a father, I spent a lot of time fixating on the things I don’t know and what I wasn’t taught,” he says. “What can I do better than the people who raised me and what should I borrow from them?”
That’s an admirable intent of course, but one that might have threatened to make Bone Structure, his 14th album thus far, a very insular affair. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
While titles such as “Practice What I Preach” and “Flesh of My Flesh” might have been plucked from a book about parenting, the songs themselves resonate with universal appeal. The quiet and contemplative “Wait and See” starts things off on a note of erstwhile deliberation and reflection. The cool caress of “Flesh of My Flesh” maintains that meditative mood. With “San Miguel,” Pope picks up the pace, if only slightly, courtesy of what sounds like a well-worn road song sung from the wider perspective of a perpetual wanderer.
The remainder of the songs conform to Pope’s customary folk/rock/Americana template, from the assertive stance of “Stuck on the Moon,” a cocksure “Dodge Aries Wagon” and the brass-infused plea for parental wisdom “Practice What I Preach (“I don’t know if I’m qualified for this/No one’s checked on my credentials”), to the tattered tones of “Habits,” the obvious ache of “Take the Edge Off” and the delicate piano-infused title track, “Back Together Again”— the latter an expression of the contentment Pope now finds in his domestic domain. The range of emotion is palatable, and Pope’s ability to express the sadness and uncertainty, doubts and desires that accompany life’s challenges and transitions translates on a universal level.