This is Aly Cook’s second crowd-sourced release and is a solid collection of vibrant, uptempo and uplifting poppy country tunes, with a clear sway towards humanity. Singles from this easy listening release apart, the busy Nelson-based country music entrepeneur was recently being heard as part of The Sou’Westers. She has evidently done plenty of touring and songwriting research across the Tasman for this solo effort since their 2013 album release. Two tunes, Kimberly (which features a didgeridoo, clapping sticks and Aboriginal spiritual imagery) and the locomotive Western Line are clearly located in the red dirt of the outback, and Cook has a passion to bring about change for Australia’s indigenous peoples.
There’s plenty of American-style radio-friendly country but Aotearoa is well represented, too, with Auckland producer Alan Jansson recording and co-writing this nine-track album (and sharing ownership of the Rodeo Records label on which it’s released). There’s vocal input from Brendan Dugan and Graham Brazier, and the trademark fiddle of Warratah Nik Brown is widely in evidence, especially on barn dance track Message In A Cloud. It includes nice romantic musings, like the self-explanatory single No Phone, No Mail, No Internet, which has brought her some reasonable country chart action across the ditch. The smoothly poppy Midnight Cowboys sees Paul Kingery of Three Dog Night guest on guitar, with a slightly Mexican guitar twang to it, and Sassenay rounds a consistently good country album off with swelling emotion courtesy of a rousing chorus from a kids choir.