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Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

The Comeback Album – 2013 (Red Beet)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

In some respects, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper make a perfect pair. The former is the leader of the alt.-country combo Last Train Home, while the latter gained prominence as the music critic for the Nashville newspaper The Tennessean. Together, they've found obvious chemistry, courtesy of a mutual musical mindset and a shared Rolodex that's yielded an impressive cast of support players.

The whimsically dubbed "The Comeback Album" is no exception, boasting such luminaries as Lloyd Green, Richard Bennett and Fats Kaplin. And that's not to mention such legends as Duane Eddy, Mac Wiseman and Marty Stuart, each of whom contributes to a track called Mad, one of several songs of special note on this, the third album they've recorded in tandem.

Fortunately, the focus remains mainly on Brace and Cooper, whether it's through their rousing rundown of famous names that populate the lyrics to Ancient History or the obvious homage to the sound and style of the Burritos, Poco, The Eagles and other famous forebears echoing through She Can't Be Herself and Carolina. Veering from tattered, road weary travelogues to jaunty ragtime revelry, the two men take a wide view of Americana environs and effectively coalesce that broad tapestry into realms they can navigate on their own.

At this point, Brace and Cooper have clearly cultivated a winning formula, one that consists of steadfast, rootsy refrains, an ample blend of sincere sentiment and folksy humor, and the musical wherewithal to pull these disparate elements together. Once again, this duo does themselves and their forebears proud.