There is only one George Strait. This is for sure. And even though Texas is big, there still wouldn’t be room enough for two of them, even if another one did exist. But in the wide open spaces of Australia, on a different continent altogether, and in a separate hemisphere entirely, there lives a country crooner by the name of Roo Arcus that you could be fooled into believing is the long lost cousin of King George if you didn’t know any better.
From the way he expertly plys his passion for country music, to the trueness he shows to himself, Roo Arcus is one of the best places to turn for more of that straight-laced and squared away version of country music indicative of George Strait, yet it’s still country that cuts to the bone with ruggedness and authenticity. These lofty standards and expectations are certified by Roo’s new record, Tumbleweed.
You don’t become a traditional country artist these days by choice. You’d have to be a glutton for punishment—a verified fool to volunteer to flush your time and money on that uphill pursuit. Making it in music is hard enough. Making it in traditional country is even harder, especially when you’re a guy from Australia. But for the truest of country artists, there is no choice. The music pursues them, not the other way around. And no matter where they may dwell, when it finds a vessel in their souls, they must express it, prospects be damned.
With his first album in five years and fourth total, Roo Arcus pulls out all the stops, from the songwriting, to the players and performances, to the studio and mastering, it’s all done to near perfection on this living testament to the beauty of country music. Spending the extra effort to record in Nashville at SonyTree Studios, and using top-flight musicians and co-writers to fully develop his ideas and vision, Tumbleweed is an astounding country music work from stem to stern.
Tumbleweed is also in many ways about Roo’s curious passion for country, not that it’s entirely foreign for an Australian to find appeal in country. Per capita, there may be more Aussies musicians making actual country music in the country music realm than Americans who are so easily corrupted towards pop. But Roo gives his country a distinct American flavor that is perfect for country fans around the World to enjoy. From the song “Mockingbird” about not fitting in and finding your own voice, to the final song on the album called “Won’t Give Up on My Dreams,” all the questions one may have about Roo Arcus’s heart and authenticity are answered in these 12 tracks.
But moreover, Tumbleweed is just one stellar country song after another, difficult to impossible to find fault with, unless you just don’t like country music, which is nobody’s fault but your own. Roo’s perfect country voice, the way the traditional country instrumentation fills out the tracks with steel guitar and fiddle so deftly aligned with melody and lyrics, you just can’t find fault, only favor with what’s going on here.
A true cowboy and cattleman who lives on a family farm, Roo Arcus lives what he sings, and sings what he lives. Regularly coming to the United States to give guided tours, while playing music when he can, the undying passion for country music comes through, and makes Tumbleweed one of the best country albums released in the world in 2020.
Two Guns Up (9/10)
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