It takes 11 tracks before Tom Cochrane announces he’s “Back in the Game” but Cochrane fans will have already figured this out long before they get to the final track of `Take It Home’, his first studio recording since his 2006 `No Stranger’ release. Solo album #7 and our Tom goes country. You can partially blame Rascal Flats for turning his “Life Is A Highway” opus into a monster country hit but in retrospect, Cochrane recording a country record is a totally natural progression for him and his timing couldn’t be more appropriate.  Yes country is the new rock with Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and the likes all enjoying cross-over acceptance so it’s only natural that Cochrane  embraces this medium – yet ‘Take It Home’ is not some country-cliched sell out. Yes there’s steel guitars and banjo arrangements filling out Cochrane’s trademark harp solos and references to Nashville and Memphis but his natural gift for storytelling fits country rock perfectly and Cochrane has the ideal voice for this genre. Check out “Country Girls Never Go Old” and you’ll recognize overtones of “Big League”, his  heartfelt tribute to Terry Fox in “The Ones That I’ve Known” is stunning  and the  emotional poignancy of  “A Prayer For Hope” is as powerful as it is simplistic and then there’s the hypnotic lyrical hook of “Diamonds”, the record’s debut single  which is a guaranteed country-music cross-over. Yet Cochrane also rocks on tracks like “Sunday Afternoon Hang” which is guaranteed to dispel thoughts of the current freezing cold spell and bring on expectations of sunny summers by the lake. Add to this other great tracks like “Can’t Stay Here”, “Another Year”, “Pink Time and “When The Lights Start To Fade” and you have vintage Cochrane  embellished by a country music sheen that’s totally infectious. As an aside, check out the amazing vocals by British songstress Beverly Knight, especially on “Pink Time” and “The Ones That I’ve Known”.  Cochrane’s musical legacy might have been defined by classic albums like “Neruda” and “Mad Mad World” but there’s a new record on his discography that stands up to his greatest achievements. It may have taken Cochrane nine years to get around to it but “Take It Home”  co-produced with long-time associate, Bill Bell, was definitely worth the wait and yes, by the blues-rock workout that climaxes this wonderful record, Tom Cochrane is well and truly “Back In The Game”.

Download: “Diamonds”, “Country Girls Never Get Old”, “The Ones That I’ve Known”

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