May 6, 2016

Album Review: Larry Hooper - No Turning Back

Larry Hooper's No Turning Back surprised me. I did not expect the bearded everyman troubadour to go the routes he chose. It's a bold statement, and one that may lose him dedicated fans, but gain a whole new audience, or probably not. Normally, I'd vaguely summarize an album in the opening paragraph before delving into its contents, but I don't want to spoil anything …so lets dig in.

"Daydreams" leads off the album with a funky hip-hop beat that bass drops into a nu-metal sounding guitar riff. Larry then comes in with a "yeah baby" and you know this isn't going to be anything you might enjoy. The song is about working all day long, but daydreaming about skidding your pickup into your girl's drive at 5 after 5 with a 6 pack and all the romantic notions of a horn-dog 17 year old. It's an interesting about-face for the formerly thoughtful Texan, but hey, bills don't pay themselves.

"Cry Me a River" is, yes, a cover of Justin Timberlake's smash hit. While lacking the smooth pipes of Mr. Timberlake, Larry makes the song his own. In fact, he has the audacity to lead into the song with the statement "I wrote this for all them girls done me wrong." Legalities and copyright aside, Hooper proceeds to rap the entire song. He's a surprising adept rhyme dropper.

Later on, in the song "Practice Makes Perfect," a rollicking hick-hop track about shooting stuff, a strange thing happens. Though the track-listing says Courtney Patton is the vocal guest, there's actually just a slowed down sample of Rihanna's "Work." Again, I'm not sure this is legally on the up and up. It also doesn't really make sense, but Larry's trying everything here.

Help me
"I Was Wrong" is a folk-ska song that sounds a little like a Cure cover band with your uncle Mark doing lead vocals. Incongruently, the song is about Larry reconsidering his opinion of Linkin Park. I don't even know what's going on anymore.

"Fire and Brimstone" turns out to be a black metal re-imagining of the album's 4th track, the aggressively bro-country "Barabbas." I'm a little worried for my friend. Larry seems to have taken a cue from Zac Brown Band and decided to fling everything he can think of against the wall, hoping for some traction. Unfortunately, the wall is teflon coated and he's slinging Astroglide.

Though Hooper tries very hard, it doesn't all work, or rather, none of it works at all. From the veiled references to Star Wars porn parodies, to the spoken word asides about sweatbands, to the inexplicable constant profanity, No Turning Back is an absolute dumpster-fire-nado that will remove the better part of an hour from your life with no positive return. Lets hope Larry goes back to the intelligent folk-tinged country he's known for on the next try, but I have my doubts anyone will help kickstart his next effort after this raging inferno of batshit. No turning back indeed.


If brave, you can buy No Turning Back on iTunes, CD Baby, or Amazon.

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