The trite phrase to use for a singer is that she or he could sing the phone book and make it sound great. And as trite as it is, that’s the phrase that comes to mind when listening to Roo Arcus sing because it wouldn’t really matter what he’s singing about – he has such lovely depth and warmth to his voice that the lyrics seem secondary. They’re not, however, and on his new album Tumbleweed he has tales of love and life gone wrong and right that fit into the more traditional country genre but which are also right for contemporary country fans.
Tumbleweed is Arcus’s fourth studio album, and he fits in music around working on his family’s cattle farm in southern New South Wales. He’s been a Golden Guitar nominee for Best Male Artist, Best New Talent of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year (twice), and two of his previous singles, ‘This Here Cowboy’ and ‘Out on the Farm’, reached #1 and were declared the CMR Biggest Radio Hit of 2012 and 2014. Tumbleweed was recorded on Music Row in Nashville and produced by Arcus’s longtime friend Tim Crouch, who, says Arcus, pushed him out of his comfort zone on some of the tracks. Certainly, while the album sounds distinctively like Arcus, it also showcases a broad range, melodically and emotionally, so whatever Crouch did, it worked.
It’s clear in these songs that Arcus is interested in communicating with his audience – that depth in his voice would be impossible to achieve if he were only interested in singing to himself. He can be romantic but it doesn’t veer into schmaltz; he’s serious without being heavy, and light without being flippant. One hesitates to say that the album has ‘something for everyone’ because that makes it sounds like Arcus has tried to please everyone, but that’s not at all the case – the phrase applies because these songs cover a range of experiences, so listeners will be able to find much to relate to. It’s also just incredibly entertaining, whether the song is a toe-tapper or more sombre. Tightly produced, performed with excellence, it does have something for everyone – every music lover, that is, because everyone who loves their country music will perceive the quality it contains.