Roo Arcus has made a stunning comeback to the country music scene with his recent album This Here Cowboy.
Over the years Australian country music has produced some fine voices but few that have embraced the path of the new traditionalists like our own Roo Arcus. Stumbling onto This Here Cowboy you could be forgiven thinking that you were witnessing a young George Strait, or a fledgling Alan Jackson.
After emerging onto the scene back in the late nineties from Australia’s country music college and touring with – and even writing a song, “Ringers, Rigs and Drivers”, for – the late Slim Dusty, Roo has sought to find his place in the pantheon of Aussie country singer songwriters. His 2000 debut album Station Boy set him on the right track garnering three top ten singles, two golden guitar nominations and winning the independent male rising star award.
Unfortunately the album turned into a false start when things started to go awry back home on the family farm. Roo a working cattleman, suffered the loss of his mother to leukemia, a tragedy compounded by the severe drought affecting the family’s southern tablelands cattle property.
Having recently married with a young family and the farm to rescue, he walked away from his singing career.
“Things just compounded and made it very difficult to get back to my music, almost to the point where I never thought I would get back to it,” Arcus revealed.
That was 2004 and after getting his priorities in order, Roo got the itch to return to his first love……writing and singing great country songs. This time, instead of taking advice from others he decided to trust his instincts. “yeah people would tell me, you should do this or that…you got to enter starmaker, you should do a duet etc, but I’ve always been my own man” Roo explains.
First on his instinct list was to recruit producer Rod McCormack, confident he was the man to make the kind of record he wanted to make. Then it was down to choosing the songs; the plan was to include the pick of his own material and a few select choices from the hands of Nashville’s finest.
“It helped being able to sit on the other side of the fence for so long and think about what I wanted to do. This album is just 100% me. It is the album I wanted to record, they are the songs I want to sing, I haven’t chosen them for any particular reason – because one group of people would like this song and another would like that one – it is really just 12 songs that I like.”
The end result is a superb and timeless collection of heartfelt stories covering, such noble causes as love, faith and respect.
Highlights include his own haunting Stretching Wire “when a wester blows and the barbed wire sings, old haunting melodies” conjuring up images of cold winter days, riding the fence lines; the philosophical waltz time metaphor Church On The Hill, “as strong as the faith on which it was built, our love lives on like that church on the hill”; and anyone doing it tough on the land will confirm the down home truth of Blue Collarville, sure could use me a new truck, I guess the one I’ve got get’s me by. I can’t seem to get out of debt, no matter how hard I try”. There’s a nod to Texas swing with the classy As Simple as That, a little honky tonk with All Uphill From Here, a stirring country ballad in A Better Me and the list goes on.
“Working with a producer as successful as Rod, I didn’t expect to be given as much input as I was. I was allowed to participate at every level of the recording process and the end result is an album that truly represents who I am. I don’t want to disown my past achievements but this is the album I’ve always wanted to make, I feel like my career starts with the title track “This Here Cowboy!”
Between performances Roo still lives on, and works the family farm in the NSW southern tablelands – breeding cattle, fixing fences, and doing many of the things he sings about with such passion.
Taking his work overseas, Roo is currently (June 2014) in the global home of country music, Nashville Tennessee, laying down the tracks for his upcoming album. If This Here Cowboy is anything to go by, Roo will again race up the charts with his powerful vocals, memorable melodies and words that ring true with anyone working on the land.