2018 sees the release of Greg Cooper’s new album, HEAL. The album’s ten songs explore the healing needed to move forward in life – to process the past before facing the future. In a culture driven by motion and pace, the album is an invitation to pause and treasure the present.
Recorded on the picturesque NSW Central Coast with producer and multi-ARIA award winning artist Shane Nicholson, both the writing and recording of the album were healing experiences.
“The great songs in life take you away from life for a moment, and at the same time help you to know how to face it again,” says Cooper. “That’s the ongoing beauty of experiencing any kind of music – and being part of creating it. Processing life and preparing for it all at once.”
Having trained classically and played in Sydney bands since the age of 14, Cooper has served in different musical roles throughout his career, particularly in the worship genre – additional guitarist for Sydney’s Revive (2006-2007), guitarist and songwriter in Garage Hymnal (2005-2015), and recently as songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for songwriting trio Voyage, who this year released their debut album Grace Has Won. He has also written extensively for the Australian church, with songs such as ‘Hear Our Prayer’ and ‘Perfect but Painful’ being sung at churches across the nation.
HEAL marks Cooper’s return to his solo work with a renewed passion. Having released debut album The Four Day Weeks of April in 2008, with follow up EPs Held Back the Sun (2010), Again and Again (2013), and The Sculptor (2015), Cooper is now bringing to the surface songs that were written in the shadow of recent health trials – experiences that helped him reframe the world and embrace each day as a gift.
“I used to think that writing music was like therapy. But now I realise it is therapy,” Cooper reflects. “These songs came from a lot of free-flowing journal writing, and then stepping back to see what themes were emerging. Those themes became the songs. Even though the songs touch on pain, it is an optimistic album. From healing comes hope.”
In bringing the songs to life, location was everything, says Cooper. “The Central Coast was the perfect place to record because there is no white noise to distract you – just suburban calm, birds, and the sound of the ocean. For me, there’s nothing more healing than environments of calm.”
The album’s lead single – ‘Let It Happen’ – was written in Los Angeles with Marcella Detroit (Shakespeare’s Sister, Eric Clapton Band) on one of Cooper’s visits there to spend time with his brother, who was based there for a number of years. It’s a song about accepting the present – and everything that has led to it – and is very much influenced by LA. “LA is a town where people have come to recommence their story, to realise their deepest dreams, and in many cases, to look inward to accept themselves,” Cooper says. “As I sat in a Venice café finishing those lyrics, those themes were in the air around me.”
All the other songs on HEAL are penned personally by Cooper – a step away from recent co-writing projects in a deliberate effort to honour the lyrics and themes that are unique to his story. HEAL is an invitation to embrace and treasure our own lives, and the stories our lives tell.