By Al Kaufman
Ron Pope loves love. His love songs are strong, strident, and unabashedly sappy. There are no songs about a girl done him wrong here, only songs about how happy his girl makes him feel.
Ron Pope loves two other things; his guitar and majestic songs. Both are on display on Whatever It Takes.
Pope made a name for himself in New York with his band, The District. He then went solo and signed with Universal Republic (Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse). After some minor success, he left the label to start his own. Whatever It Takes is his first CD for his label. It showcases what Pope does best, which is pump out anthems and lovingly create ballads.
The CD opens with “If You Were a Stone,” a big, majestic song with a country edge, sort of like a male version of the Dixie Chicks. It is rich in metaphor but blunt in its message of adoration. “If you were a tree, I’d be the earth/Clutching your roots, as you reached skyward,” he professes.
“Our Song” is one of the sweetest ballads one could ever hear. In the course of the song he relives the day he and his wife meet, him asking her father for his permission, and their wedding day. Again it has a touch of country sentimentality, with lines like, “Promise to never stop dancing once we start.”
But Pope can also bring on the rock, as he does on the Springsteen-esque anthem, “I Believe,” and the drum-driven hard rocker “Never Let You Go.” And just in case his songs don’t feel large enough for you, he brings in a chorus to sing lines like “When you’re lost, I’ll lead you home again,” on “Home Again.”
Yes, Pope is a sentimentalist, but he a sincere one. Plus he is sentimentalist who can rip a guitar to shreds.