REVIEW BY ANDREW GREENLAIGH OF REVIEW YOU
It’s no secret that country music as we know it has undergone a dramatic shift in the past twenty years or so. Gone are the salt of the earth flavors of Waylon and Willie, now giving way to the pop country of artists like Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, and Lady Antebellum. Sure, these new artists try to keep their country cred alive, interspersing their love tales with tracks that declare their love for tractors and gigging frogs but, ultimately, something is lost in the translation.
Yet some artists aren’t quite content with the new brand of country music that’s come to roost in the proverbial henhouse. Artists as diverse as Alan Jackson, Shooter Jennings, and George Strait have all expressed their displeasure with the new sounds of Music Row and continue to craft music that expresses the sounds of the heart and the heartland, maintaining a respect and love of tradition. Adding his hat to the circle of supporters is Ben Coulter and his latest recording, Cuzz Vol. V: Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone.
Coulter has spent plenty of time making music to make those old cowboys nod their heads in approval, notching nine albums to date under his belt and adding to a steadily increasing fan base. And through it all, his appreciation for roots country music has been heard and is the foundation that the stripped down Cuzz V builds its house on.
The album is the simplest form of music, just a man with a story to tell and his guitar. And Coulter’s deft playing and warm baritone, reminiscent of George Strait on his finest days, lay forth a fine palette of southern charm, with self-penned lyrics that tell of family, faith, and love. It’s real music for real people.
Coulter kicks the album off with the title track, musing about the loss of the old images and the overall heartbeat of the country/cowboy lifestyle. It’s simple, straightforward nature leads nicely into “First Big Record I Make I’m Going Home,” penned by Noel Wilson, whom Coulter gives a tribute later on in the record with the heartfelt lyrics of “I’ll Raise My Guitar High.”
“Back Home to You” is a pleasantly low-key affair alongside “I Want to Go Out West,” with their tales of love and longing while “Deer Huntin’ Blues” provides a bit of comic relief as well as a more upbeat vibe. Alternately, the weariness of “All My Dues are Paid” slows things down again with honest lyricism as the tenderness of “My Sweet Lovin’ Woman” rings true.
“I’ll Miss You, My Dear Friend” is another slow jam of gentle hope and sorrow yet quickly gives way to the upbeat tempo of “Goin’ Down to Montrose.” A prayer of faith and need come with the plaintive cry of “Dear Lord,” capturing both honesty and artistry in one before opening up to the true country sounds of “I’m Tired of Playing Second Fiddle.” It’s classic country in all aspects and is a perfect fit here.
Coulter also taps into the patriotic vein here with “Hard Workin’, God Fearin’ Folks of the USA” and it’s hat tip to the blue collar folks of the U.S. It’s one of the country credibility tracks that actually works given the rest of the artist’s material; Coulter writes from what he knows and the hard working folks will certainly identify. And lastly, in keeping with roots, Coulter brings to bear an upbeat rendition of that John Newton hymn classic, “Amazing Grace.” It’s a rousing, faith-filled ending that is totally appropriate here.
Ben Coulter’s Cuzz Vol. V: Where Have All the Old Cowboys Gone plays out on two levels. On one, it could simply serve as a quality, stripped down demo session of tracks that will soon be fleshed out a bit more with more instrumentation and bombast. And while that’s perfectly fine if that’s the case (and no doubt some of these tracks would be that much better given such a treatment), there’s something to be said for the stark simplicity of this recording. A man, his guitar, and his convictions; sometimes that’s just the right formula.
Examiner.com - written by Brandler Johnson
On a night where a Taylor Swift concert was adding additional congestion to a usually overburden parking situation, Nashville was treated to a one-night only engagement by Ben Coulter and the Delta Outlaws. The five-piece country band from Little Rock, Arkansas played to an appreciative near-capacity crowd at the popular Listening Room.
Originally from the tiny railroad thoroughfare of Montrose, Arkansas, Ben Coulter has emerged as one of Arkansas' and Little Rock’s favorite sons. A regular on Little Rock television morning shows as well as frequent guest at local radio stations, Coulter has developed a loyal following with his rich and effortless vocals and a songwriting style that blends a combination of traditional Country with a hint of Delta Blues. Often playing as a solo act in the Little Rock club and café circuit as well as a bevy of statewide festivals, Coulter recently added the Delta Outlaws and brought his show to the Listening Room in Nashville.
Backed by Zach Gibbons on bass, Kirby Smith on lead guitar, Terry Swilley on harmonica, and Brandon Hogg on the drums, Coulter immediately captivated the audience with his booming voice and soulful southern feel.
The audience was treated to a wide variety of musical textures as Coulter tapped into his roots and delivered every song with the conviction of a church choir member on any given Sunday. “Mississippi Woman” showcased Coulter’s fondness for the Delta Blues, while “Roll on Train” painted a picture of living in the rural South where the frequent rumble and whistles of the passing trains are still a part of every day life. Perhaps Coulter’s most commercial endeavor came in the form of “Songwriter”, an introspective ballad that quickly brought comparisons to a young George Strait.
The attentive yet high-energy crowd rewarded Coulter with their focused appreciation after every song in the ninety-minute set and then hung around long after the performance to get signed CDs as well as meet and welcome the up and coming artist to Nashville. "As published on Examiner.com. To view the complete article with photos go to: http://exm.nr/moiJbO9"
The following articles are some press that has been released about Ben Coulter and his music.
REVIEW FOR CUZZ VOL. III IN NIGHTFLYING MAGAZINE
The following is a review of my latest album, "Cuzz Vol. III" in Nightflying magazine. Nightflying is an entertainment magazine that goes out across the whole state of Arkansas. Special thanks to Nightflying for placing our review in their magazine. Hope you enjoy!!
Cuzz Vol. III "Feel Like Goin' Home"
Ben Coulter- Indie
First couple albums I pulled out of the box were blues and suddenly the scene shifted to country. Ben Coulter recorded this excellent album in Hot Springs (at Crystal Hills Studio) and I would be willing to bet everybody involved had a big time on the gig. Tim Crouch played guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. Robby Springfield added electric and steel guitar. Doug Deforest played bass and Stacey Lux added background vocals. Ben has a good voice, no spectacular effects needed. I would venture to say he could hold his own with any popular country artist you might hear on the radio these days. This is a tight little set and firm proof homegrown talent is strong, from poignant ballads such as the title track to flat out rockers like the opener. This is the sort of album that makes this job sweet.
From Montrose to Mizzou: Branson Musician Ben Coulter picks out a musical career
Ashley County News Observer written by Todd Bergmen
For Ben Coulter, a Montrose native and a 1998 graduate of Hamburg High School, what started as deer camp activity has become a career in Branson, Mo. Coulter said that in his early years he went to the Portland Reserve and Hunting Club, where people sang and played guitar. "We played more guitar than hunting deer," he said. Outside of that, music was not a part of Coulter's early life. Benjamin Luke Coulter, named for Star Wars characters, played baseball in high school and studied agriculture and history at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. While in college, Coulter decided to play guitar. "I figured it would be a good way to pick up girls," he said. At age 19, Coulter asked his mother, Kathy Coulter, who works at a Portland Bank, for an acoustic guitar for Christmas. "He asked me for a guitar," Kathy Coulter said. "I thought it would end up on the shelf after two weeks." Now, Ben Coulter's fingers are picking guitar and his voice is singing with it in Branson, Fayetteville, and other places. He plays country and a little Gospel.
Coulter said he takes after his favorite country artists-Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Sr. "I wanted to play music," Coulter said, "But, there was not a place to play in Monticello."
In May of 2004, Coulter dropped out of the University of Arkansas-Monticello and took his guitar, $400 and a pickup truck to Branson. When first in Branson, Coulter started looking for a day job, Gerry Moore, owner of the Dixie Country Inn, a 56-room motel in Branson said. "The first time he played for my wife and I, I knew he had talent," Moore said. The next day, Moore took Coulter to a recording session where he made a demo compact disc. "He took me under his wing when I first got to Branson," Coulter said about Moore. Coulter has a voice range as good as Haggard or Jennings, Moore said. "He's really talented," Moore said, "He's got a good vocal range. He's a good Christian young man." Moore said that he helped Coulter get a gig playing his guitar for tips at Shorty Small's, a Branson restaurant. Coulter entertains customers on the patio while they are waiting to eat and in the restaraunt while they eat. In Branson, guitar players other than headliners typically make $40 a show, Moore said. "That's why most people play three shows a night," Moore said. Coulter said he makes $650 to $700 a week in tips during the summer, playing at Shorty Small's and the Pasta House, another restaraunt. When playing in restaurants, Coulter does not just do the standard 45-minute set, typical of union musicians. "I just sit down for an hour and a half or two hours," Coulter said, "Then, I go to the bathroom for a few minutes." "I don't want folks to miss my music."
Coulter plays and sings songs he wrote himself as well as country standards.
During the winter, Coulter heads south to Fayetteville, where he works a day job in a University of Arkansas entomology laboratory, watches the Razorbacks and plays his guitar Thursday nights at Sodie's.
Moore said, "He likes to play for kids his age." Coulter said that he often gets home at midnight, which in Branson is the Dixie Country Inn, picks up his guitar and writes some new songs. Coulter said that his hometown of Montrose and its surrounding railroad tracks and cotton fields are often the theme for his songs. Coulter's recent album "Songwriter" has a cover picture of the artist beside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and its line sign for Montrose. Songs that Coulter wrote and recorded include "Someday I'm Goin home," "I Wanna go out West," "Goin down to Montrose," "Old School," "I Know Where I'll Be Found," "Ten Miles North of Louisiana," "I'm a Razorback Fan," "Railroad Blues," "Louisiana Trainride," and "The First Big Record I make I'm goin Home." Although Coulter has cut a couple of albums, he has not made a big record deal. Coulter will be close to home, singing and playing, on March 3rd at the Lakeshore Cafe in Lake Village from 6:30 to 9pm. Across the river, Coulter's music received airplay on WDMS, 100.7 FM in Greenville, Miss., but virtually no place else. To get airplay, one has to know a disc jockey, Coulter said. In addition, Coulter said that his music is not the type that most stations air.
He said, "It is just me and a guitar." But Moore said that Coulter has put on the shelf the guitar his mother bought him and purchased a new $3,000 Martin guitar. Moore said, "He's got the best guitar in the business."
Coulter's New CD gets Good Marks - Ashley County Ledger
(This review of Montrose native Ben Coulter's new cd, "Cuzz Vol. II" was written by Lindy Word, a reporter for the Hometown News in Rogers)
Country singer/songwriter Ben Coulter describes his music as "country music – delta style," and in a musical era where genres are easily mixed, Coulter keeps his sound pure with a newfound blues edge in his third independent album entitled, "Cuzz – Volume II: Got the Devil On My Heels."
The album, jam-packed with twenty songs (two of which are live tracks), takes the listener on a whirlwind ride of girls, God, and odes to the South. With great lead guitar solos by Bruce Smith and Coulter's new harmonica addition on many of the tracks, Coulter continues to define himself and his sound, all the while remaining true to his Southern roots. Some might define his delta-style country as "real" country, a type of music that has nothing to do with the poppy, pseudo-southern sound that the genre has evolved into. Instead, his sound and his lyrics remind listeners of where country came from, and unapologetically tells us where he thinks country music should still be.
With steady harmonica and guitar playing, the album begins solidly with "Roll on Train," and it sets the tone well for the rest of the album. His faster, bluesy songs like "Roll on Train," "Headed Down to Georgia," and "Delta Blues" would make anyone turn their head and tap their toe. It's a deeper plunge into what Coulter was dabbling in on a few cuts off the first volume in the series. And it sounds like Coulter is saying for maybe the first time, "Here I am. Take notice. I have something real to offer."
Also, the ballads on the album are stronger than on the previous record. "Nothing Worse than Being Alone in the Middle of the Night" stands out among them, along with a love song to God entitled "Your Love is Amazing to Me." When he sings the question, "I wonder how you could love someone like me," those could easily be the most honest and heartfelt words in all of the 20 songs.
Pondering everything from chicken in a frying pan to God's unconditional love to Hank Williams, Coulter, just like any good songwriter, covers it all. Although the album tends to run long, whether it's editing issues or Coulter giving you -as he said- "more bang for your buck," he always keeps you interested in what he'll say next and how he will say it.
As the singer continues to carve his musical identity, Coulter, whose country twang never affects his crystal clear tone, has a sound reminiscent of old-school greats like Johnny Cash. Although it sets high expectations for the small-town southern singer, just give him some time and see what happens as he continues to grow and find his musical niche.
"I'll be somewhere singing my blues," Coulter sings on the track "I'll Be Gone Before the Snow Falls." We'll be listening
Local Musician to perform on statewide TV show this week
Ashley News Observer - January 16th,2008
LITTLE ROCK- Ben Coulter of Montrose will perform live on the TV show "Midday Arkansas" on Thursday. "Midday Arkansas" airs from 11:30 a.m. to noon on KATV Channel 7.
Coulter will perform a few songs on the show to promote his upcoming gigs here and Lake Village. He will be performing at Grumpy's Too on Thursday, Saturday and Feb. 2. All shows will be from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Coulter will be performing at the Lakeshore Cafe in Lake Village on Jan. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
For more information on Coulter, visit www.bencoulteronline.com.
Portland News by Betty Gay Shuler
Ashley County Ledger
Portland- Kathy Coulter gave me an alert this week that Ben will be back at Lakeshore Cafe next Friday night, July 29, for another session of his special brand of music. Call for your reservation early; they fill up fast for Ben. Then after a few hours of sleep, Ben will be appearing at the "Jammin' in the Delta Blues Festival" which is being held at the state park on Lake Chicot on Saturday, July 30. The Festival kicks off at noon and will continue until dark or maybe dark thirty...so don't miss seeing Ben next weekend! He will also be in Hot Springs at the Crystal Springs Resort on July 6 and 7 if you are up that way on the weekend of the Fourth.
Emerging from the small town of Montrose, in the SE Arkansas Delta, Ben Coulter has been eyeing the country music spotlight on his quest to the Grand Ole Opry for some time now. At 19 he was amazed by the fact that his Deer Camp was always being filled with music. And great music it was! Ben shared his camp with musical greats such as Bruce Smith, a respected country guitar player from Hot Springs, and Noel Wilson and Mike Gavin, who are well know for their time spent playing with the great Johnny Cash. At night you could hear the acoustic songs of Merle, Waylon, Johnny, and Hank Sr. by the firelight. It is only natural that Ben would count these greats in his list of influences.
Although Ben came from a musical family, with his uncle being a gospel singer, he actually didn't pick up a guitar of his own until getting one for Christmas in 1999. Since then he has played in numerous churches that he pastored including Fellowship Baptist in Snyder, AR and Journey Church in Monticello, AR. Ben feels as though he is taking the "same path" as Son House, a Blues crooner and guitarist that rose to popularity in the 1930's and 1940's. He also started out with a love for God and then started to showcase his talents for music.
After competing in a few talent contests and building up some confidence, Ben moved to Branson in 2004 with nothing more than $300, his guitar and a bag of clothes. With the help of his new friends, Gerry and Karen Moore, he was able to find work at Shorty Smalls as the evening entertainment. Ben smiles as he recalls the panic he felt that first night......"I was supposed to play for 3-4 hours and I only knew maybe 10 songs! I just walked around and played to different people and somehow made it work!" Ben spent the next couple of years splitting his time between Branson in the summer and Fayetteville during the winters. By 2006 he was established in Branson so well that he was able to spend the entire year working there by playing such venues as The Pasta House and Branson Landing. One night Ben was playing as a street entertainer for Branson Landing when he heard a familiar voice join in on the song and looked up to see Glen Campbell singing with him!
In 2007 Ben packed up and moved to Nashville where he was lucky enough to land a gig playing with legendary blues man and Grammy Award Winner from NOLA, Anders Osborne, at the Crescent Cafe' and Oyster Bar. As much as he enjoyed Nashville, he felt as though he could make the same living playing away from Nashville, and that decision turned out to be the right one for him! After moving to Hamburg, AR he met his girlfriend and love of his life, Sheffield Duke.... "She has been my No. 1 supporter and the Voice of Reason when I need to hear it!" (Sorry ladies, he's taken) Ben now makes a monthly trip to perform in Nashville. He also travels to Mississippi where he has been playing Harlow's Casino on Friday and Saturday nights quite a bit over the last few months.
When you don't find Ben busy with music, you will find him cheering on his favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and Arkansas Razorbacks. He is also an avid reader and loves anything to do with history, especially the Civil War. Ben has also joined with Holt International. They are a non-profit that helps kids that are in the worst situations all over the world while they are waiting to be adopted. Ben also been helping to raise awareness through participating in a fundraiser for Hope Ranch. Hope Ranch Inc. is a non-profit Assisted Riding Center for at risk youth in Southeast Arkansas, located in Lake Village, Arkansas.
Ben's biggest wish is to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and he lights up as he says that his friends, family....his entire hometown have been behind him 200%. Since that first night in Branson, Ben has added hundreds of songs to his repertoire as well as produced and distributed enough original material to warrant 9 albums! His next album, a solo acoustic compilation, is set to release around March 1st. With all this talent....Ben is sure to recognize his dream in the near future. You can find more about Ben Coulter and his "Road to the Opry" on his Facebook page as well as his website www.bencoulteronline.com, and you can actually follow his journey at www.roadtotheopry.com. You will also find several dates at local venues around Central Arkansas.