California’s Chris McCooey Releases “Better Days”
California’s Chris McCooey shines in the new EP Better Days. The Bay-Area singer-songwriter’s six-songs that nestle between Americana and pop are some of 2022’s best. From the opening title track to the closer, “When This Is Over”, McCooey and his compelling vocals keep the listener transfixed. He’s just that type of singer that has the magnetism of Gordon Lightfoot, Ray LaMontagne and David Gray all rolled into. Still, McCooey stands alone in his spotlight, which will inevitably grow stronger once folks get a listen. Better Days is that good. Better Days features Max Butler on guitar and multi-instrumentalist Thomas deBourbon.
And McCooey just seems like a good guy. The way he carries himself, the way his heart bleeds and he wears that heart on his sleeve comes through in each of these songs. His voice has a bit of a scraggle to it – the kind that makes you think this guy has a sensitive soul. C’mon, c’mon move along move us onto better days, he sings in the title song. The patience in his voice is the nice juxtaposition to the lyrics – he’s not a forceful guy, he’s an encouraging one. When you really marinate into the music and the warmth of McCooey’s vocals in “Better Days” you feel an intimacy. It’s the same kind of connection you would feel at a coffee house singer/songwriter night. Still, there’s something bigger happening in the sound and in the background that made me feel as though this idea of a corner coffee stop is too confining for both him and the song.
Listen boy, it won’t be easy, sings McCooey in “The Man I Could Not Be”. Sounding like a troubadour, a man that has seen his fair share, this song continues to hit all the right notes. In “Yonder”, McCooey changes up the gears, shifts the arrangements. This is a song that felt very momentous. It’s the type of song that when it starts, you just know it’s going to be a larger than life sound. I think the sound is perfect for the subject and really hits on how beautiful life can be. It’s a bit more rocking than the other previous two.
“Fade To Black” sends the listener to a contemplative, calming state. I loved the violin arrangements in this song – and it’s a haunting reminder of the depression and isolation of the past few years. I must say the brilliance of this song, too, is that it is possibly about the pandemic, but it could be about being apart from someone you love.
The final tracks are “We Found Love” (a fun tale about concert goers and the places they go to see their shows) and “When This Is Over” draw even more emotional connections. As a storyteller, McCooey is at the top of his game. When you hear these songs, all of the songs actually, you stop and listen. These aren’t passerby songs. Intoxicating guitar melodies and riffs, along with the breezy drums, the songs on Better Days are just what the day calls for and the doctor ordered.