IN THIS LIGHT
Blue Rock Artists
Magnificent melodies and heartfelt emotions shimmer IN THIS LIGHT.
Ohio native Rj Cowdery openly admits that she’s something of a late bloomer. Holding down a real job for years and years, Rj released her debut album in the middle of the closing decade of last century and then settled back into the ‘everyday’ of every succeeding day. While music continued to pervade Rj’s leisure hours, she finally cast her songs to their fate in the public domain a handful of years ago. Drawing on decades of knowledge, like a magnet Cowdery’s words and melodies attracted accolades and songwriting awards from Mountain Stage NewSong Contest (2007), the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Song Contest (2008) and Wildflower! Music & Arts Festival Singer/Songwriter Contest (2011). Her third recording, IN THIS LIGHT, was recorded in ‘paradise’ aka Wimberley’s Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio and produced by facility co-owner Billy Crockett. Chris Maresh (acoustic, electric bass) and Rick Richards (percussion) furnish the backbone on most of the album’s eleven selections, and Rj’s voice and acoustic guitar are also supported by hallmark contributions from Crockett (piano, pump organ, mandolin), Cindy Cashdollar (weisenborn, dobro, lap steel, national steel, resonator guitar), Dirjie Smith (cello), Pierce Pettis (harmonica) and Jonathan Byrd (vocals).
Magnificently mellifluous from the outset, Cowdery opens with the album title song. Having thrown ‘some wishes’ into a well, the narrator relates how she subsequently: ‘ran like hell’ because: ‘I think I’m better off if I don’t know.” There’s a possible autobiographical undercurrent at play here, as the narrator subsequently relates: ‘Throw down my guard step into the light.’ The rest, I guess, is history as related in the opening paragraph of this review. Mankind’s daily struggles are woven into the fabric of Other Side Of Love and I’ll Keep Trying. Blind Side focuses on a cheating husband, while Snow is a seasonal road song set in a cold motel room and closes with the cinematic and succinct: ‘Damn this winter get me to June.” The narrator in Far Away paints a portrait of a hardscrabble life: ‘All this living is surely killing me.’ Assisted vocally by Byrd, in the five-minute plus Not Going Home, the narrator having been shot and ‘lying in a pool of blood’ reflects on someday spinning off this mortal coil: ‘ I don’t see the light so I’m not going home.’ The latter title segues into a short reprise of the well-know gospel song I’ll Fly Away. This is an eminently listenable collection that bears repeated hearing, and closes with the sonically bare caution Whiskey. Cowdery’s voice and guitar are accompanied solely by Crockett’s pump organ, the lyric being an ‘open letter’ to that warm yet seductive and addictive spirit in the bottle.
-Arthur Wood – Maverick Magazine
“Fantastic bunch of songs! I was torn between wanting to hear each successive song and savoring the one I’d just heard. This is just wonderful.” -Charlie Silvestri, Homegrown Radio NJ
“I put on Rj Cowdery and I AM IN LOVE!!! This is by far one of the best CD’s I’ve heard on 2011!!” -Sam Tallerico, Cold Spring Radio
“Cowdery’s a natural – with a strong, warm voice that carries you into the world she sings about. She also has a gift for creating songs that that can bring that proverbial ray of sunshine to a gloomy day. And that talent of hers shines again with eleven more originals on her latest CD- “In this Light”.-Butch Kara, Kaleidoscope
“In This Light,” the tender and brave new album by RJ Cowdery, leaves the door to her soul open a crack and invites you to come in and see the world from her perspective. Backed by a talented but respectful band of celebrated Americana/roots players, every song draws you deeper into her world, where lyrics are gold and her smooth alto reigns supreme. It is inevitable that every one of these eleven tracks will soon be someone’s new favorite song.”
– Rebecca Loebe, Award winning singer- songwriter, Finalist on NBC’s “The Voice”
The Nugget Newspaper
The winner of the 2012 Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest was singer/songwriter RJ Cowdery of Columbus, Ohio.
"I'm so happy to have won this," said Cowdery."I've been hearing about the Sisters Folk Festival and the songwriting contest for a few years, I've done some other contests in Texas and Colorado and always wanted to throw my hat into the ring and finally got a chance to do that."
Cowdery grew up in Belpre, Ohio, a small town along the West Virginia border. Absorbing the gospel and country music her family sang, Cowdery gained the inspiration to want to sing and play guitar. Even damaged fingers on her left hand from a mowing accident couldn't slow Cowdery down.
"I decided losing part of my finger wouldn't stop me from playing guitar," Cowdery said. "I just make my own finger out of tape, and it hasn't held me back at all. I have my own style of playing now and I couldn't imagine playing any other way."
With a tender voice and heartfelt lyrics, Cowdery has taken home major songwriting awards at such illustrious places as Kerrville New Folk, Mountain Stage Newsong, Wildflower Arts and Music, while getting the runner-up award at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, before netting her impressive win here in Sisters.
"This just keeps me going, I can't wait to come back," Cowdery said. "It's going to be something to really look forward to. I tour in Texas quite a bit, northern Colorado and tour the Midwest and the Northeast. I've never played in this part of the country before, so this will really open some doors for this area."
Opening doors is what the contest is all about, according to Sisters Folk Festival Board Chairman Jim Cornelius.
"Songwriting contests are a way for emerging artists in this kind of genre of music to gain name recognition and credibility," he said. "There is no getting a label deal or major label support in this business, it's all how you get your name out there on your own. This is one of the ways people do that, so they're looking for songwriting contests to enter. This contest has a good reputation. It's had winners that have gone on to have solid careers in folk music. Dave Carter was the first, but there have been a bunch who have launched a career or have gotten a career boost from winning this contest."
Carter was an emerging folk singer-songwriter whose songs were noted for their poetic imagery, spirituality and storytelling. He died from a massive heart attack at the age of 49, in 2002.