By Amy Louise Allard-Dunbar
JP Cooper, well known for his upbeat summer and club anthem ‘September Song‘ released his well anticipated album Raised Under Grey Skies. This was only the artists second album, with his last release being in 2014, finally releasing long awaited new music.
Firstly, the album cover is a very stripped back personal photo that conveys the tone of the album. Shown is an intimate portrait of the artist himself in front of a warm grey background, imitating a similar style to the previous album cover and singles. The simple elegance and minimalist covers creates the feeling of a raw honesty.
The album opens with ‘We Were Raised Under Grey Skies’, the title single. The song opens with a beautiful melody and delicate guitar strumming to accompany his vocals. The song has a romantic yet saddening tone, with the lyrics being a paradox to each other; “how to draw beauty from pain”. The song gave me goosebumps from the outset, and was the perfect opening song.
The next song on the album is titled ‘September Song’, the hit chart song that started JP’s rise to fame. ‘September Song’ is the perfect summer love song, giving everyone the feeling of freedom, youth, good times, and innocent first loves.
The music video creates the tail of a rebellious girl who catches the heart of a sweet boy and slowly he begins to dream of her, and what could be. The song’s powerful vocals really carry the song through during the chorus, accompanied by funky instrumentals.
One of the more sombre songs on the album is titled Good Friend which portrays the emotional roller-coaster of friendship,focussing on the importance of friends. The song has a continuous upbeat melody throughout, yet still containins that sombre feeling. The lyrics “I woke up in a bad way, if I didn’t have you I would have lost my faith” really carried through the message of the song.
‘All This Love’, the forth single on the Album, is also one of the more sombre songs, with the heart-breaking accounts of finding an ex’s old belongings and not having the courage to let go and throw them out. The lyrics “I got all this love gathering dust in my house” and “drowning in memories of you” portrays this feeling perfectly. The beautiful song has a quick beat that really punches each lyric.
One of the hit singles on the album ‘She’s On My Mind’ has a quirky, unique vocal opening that gets you dancing from the first second. The opening quick paced vocals have a rap undertone and this song is definitely one of the more fun songs on the album, balancing out the more serious undertone of the other singles.
The only collaboration on the album is titled ‘Momma’s Prayers’, an unlikely collaboration with the artist Stormzy, as his music is typically grime. Still, the artist’s vocals provide an incredible accompaniment to JP’s beautiful vocals.
The song sounds similar to a gospel church song, with the echoing of choir voices accompanying the main vocals throughout. The song opens with a singular piano and vocals. Stormzy’s opening vocals bring a more sombre tone to the song with his deep voice carrying through the message of the song “those demons tried to slay us… I owe it all to momma’s prayers”. Conveying both a religious undertone, similar to many of the songs on the album, and the deep connection a child has to their own mother.
‘In The Silence’ is one of the most beautiful and raw songs vocally, on the album. With a single piano accompanying JP’s vocals throughout, similar to many of the songs on the album. This stripped back, intimacy is what makes the song so beautiful. The lyrics “now after all these years you’re the light in my darkness” carry through the song in an angelic, hypnotic manor that feels like a meaningful song to the artist making you feel his pain in his words.
‘Beneath The Streetlights And The Moon’ has the same simplistic vocal and piano accompaniment. The song is a refelction on the good memories of a past love, creating the feeling of watching an old video tape, looking back on good times.
The album’s last song before the band and acoustic songs is ‘Lost Boy Dreaming’ which opens with a funk guitar beat to move onto a very light strumming with a lighter drum mixing along. The album begins with the harder aspects of life, and a feeling of a lived life, but the album closes with the soft feelings of innocence and young life. It has a different feel to the other songs, with a very different pace, much slower and softer than many of the other songs with a more intense guitar accompanying the song.
The album closes with the powerful band version of ‘Perfect Strangers’, the club anthem collaboration with Jonas Blue. This version has powerful vocals throughout, and brings a softer side to the party anthem. The various percussion instruments and guitar have transformed this song into an elegant addition which fits in well with the softer tone of the album.
The album is the perfect soundtrack to life, with songs representing both the highs and the lows, making it feel like there is a song for everyone. The album is a beautiful creation, living up to the expectations of fans who have been waiting for new music.
Through JP Coopers stripped back vocals and his willingness to convey every emotion listeners will easily feel a deep connection to both him and his music. JP’s album is a true work of art and full of incredible song-writing.
5 out of 5