The career trajectory of Georgian rocker Ron Pope can be taken similarly to Missourian soul man Nathaniel Rateliff… at least in the sense that, starting as a renowned solo artist, Rateliff finally blew the lid off of the cap and fizzed over into the mainstream when he’d formed the Night Sweats and released their highly acclaimed studio debut in 2015.
Gathering a slew of musicians from the Bronx, from Paul Hammer, Alex Foote, and Andrew Pertes, to Alex Brumel, Alan Markley, and Michael Riddleberger, Pope eases into a newfound confidence as the Nighthawk’s leading man. A blend of styles and influences come together to develop something distinctively heartland Americana. It’s a simpler take on music compared to the broad-spanning arena synth and rock of Pope’s previous outing, Calling Off the Dogs, and one that he sells with even more purpose.
Wherein the brush of “authenticity” is far too often applied to the style of music that he’s chosen to tackle next merely for the earth-laden tradition of its history, the term really applies to Pope here, as he breaks a heart-rending lilt on “Lies and Cigarettes” and really lets his Southern rocker loose on “Ain’t No Angel”. Ron Pope + the Nighthawks makes for a thrilling listen, and paints a promising picture for the Americana scene in 2016 right out of the gate.