The Family Shiloh is prepping for the release of a new album. It’s titled At The Cold Copper Ranch and has a drop date of April 29, 2022. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.
Family Shiloh is an American music group based out of Texas. What began as a tuneful twosome of Colby and Kimberly Pennington eventually grew into a regular family affair. (Imagine a contemporary Carter Family, a countrified Cowsills, or a Texas-tinted, really rural Partridge Family complete with a musical mother and father.)
The current band roster includes Colby Pennington (acoustic guitar, vocals, and harmonica), Kimberly Pennington (vocals, handclaps, and whistle), Jonah Pennington (electric guitar, classical guitar, Hammond organ, cowbell, percussion, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals), Chloe Pennington (fiddle, piano, vocals, and handclaps) Adeline Pennington (fiddle, vocals, and handclaps), Brent Pennington (bass), and Patience and Amelie Pennington (vocals and handclaps). According to their official website, their resume includes a trio of previous platters, and “hundreds of shows across central Texas over the last few years.”
Family Shiloh’s signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres including Americana, country, and folk. Early sources of inspiration include Colby’s “troubadour heroes, [Bob] Dylan and [Woody] Guthrie.” In a recent email, he said: “This project was an honor and a dream come true for me, having always had a passion for songwriting and especially intrigued by troubadours like Woody Guthrie, who was once commissioned by the federal government to write about what he saw along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.”
Colby comments further on the inspiration for this disc: “Down a Burnet County backroad sits a quiet ranch filled with majestic longhorns and Texas hill country views, a perfect place for our family to receive an album’s worth of songwriting inspiration. Mike and Kali Smith run a quality operation with a focus on the utmost love and respect for every Longhorn that finds a home with the Cold Copper Cattle Co. The charming creatures are a part of the family here on the 4C.”
He added: “When we stepped on the Cold Copper Ranch for the first time, the Smiths made our family feel right at home. As they shared stories of their longhorns and the family history that brought them to this moment, we envisioned capturing these experiences musically as an indelible tribute to a uniquely Texan way of life and the special people that live and breathe it. Cold Copper has provided a similar opportunity to our family – a union between the Longhorn ranch life and country music – two of Texas’ most beloved and iconic traditions.”
At The Cold Copper Ranch
At The Cold Copper Ranch is a 15-track album focusing on not only the ranch itself, but the people who live in Texas, and their lifestyles. All the songs here are original compositions. They also note that this is the first time they have “attempted to match the style” of their live concerts.
Colby also noted: “To properly tell these stories, we needed help from a top-notch team of Texas musicians and musical engineers. With the ranch’s support, we were able to enlist the services of many of our favorite music professionals Texas has to offer.”
Also appearing on the album are Billy Horton (standup bass), Paul Glasse (mandolin), Dejan Nikolic (accordion), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Marty Muse (pedal steel guitar), Andy McAllister and Damien Llanes on drums, Dave Biller (baritone, electric and pedal steel guitars), Christopher Gregory (acoustic and electric guitar), Dale Hunt (pedigree), Bruce McCarty (auctioneer), and Matt Pittman, and Mike, Kali, Sam and Jacee Smith (handclaps).
Track by Track
The album opens on the yodel-peppered “Cold Copper Theme.” It’s an apt opener and works to set the mood for what is to follow. It’s got a retro-black and white TV show theme feel to it.
The second selection is “(It’s Gonna be a) Longhorn Day.” Sure, this might not be a surprising song inclusion but honestly where would the disc be without it? In fact, in truth, a song like this is a requirement on an album titled At The Cold Copper Ranch. So saddle up, if you haven’t already.
The next number is “Dunn Lucky Dice.” It, like all the other songs on this project, is an original song composed by family members. It’s got a “live” intro (and outro) to set the scene for those folks not familiar with cattle auctions and the like.
“Kansas” follows. It’s a bit of a musical memory that takes the listeners on a little roots road trip down some quaint country roads.
“In Lieu of You” is more of a personal, reflective piece. It’s a musical missing-you-missive if you will. It’s a perfect late-night back porch piece and would probably work almost as well as a stripped-down acoustic guitar solo number. (Mind you, the listener would miss out on the vocal harmonies and other nice touches. So maybe it’s just as well.)
“Look At All Of Them Cows” Head ‘em up and move ‘em out as you listen to this song of perhaps just a little bit more than cattle.
“Cold Copper Call” finds family members still doing what they do best with songs that remain true to the overall theme of the work. Cowboys and cowgirls take note here.
“Sunshine Soul” is an upbeat piece that works well right where it was placed here. Cowboys and country gals’ lives are certainly about more than sad sunsets and melancholic music and this one is a perfect reminder. Dead Poets Society members aren’t the only ones who seize the day.)
“Delta Lucky Ace” is an energetic traveling tale of a Texas bull heading to his new home in “the Lone Star State” and some more analytical minds might add a story of strength as well. Regardless, it’s almost a prerequisite on an album about life “at the Cold Copper Ranch.” (Besides, with a name like “Delta Lucky Ace” you know someone has to write a song about him, right?)
“Burnet County Backroads” may lead you to strangely familiar places if you listen closely enough. Mind you, while the music is initially reminiscent of something we’ve herd (ahem) before, it retains its originality and is thus not derivative but friendly.
“A Thing I Do” Is a road trip track . . . assuming you’re cruising through Texas anyway. This one is radio-ready and even a wee bit old-fashioned too…and that’s a good thing.
“No 4C Blues” takes us in a welcome new stompin’ direction in terms of genre. It has its own distinct identity yet still works as part of the whole.
Also included here is the tribute track “The Last Herd.” The family continues to display their musical wares and tuneful talents. The act’s signature sound remains solid.
Not to be confused with the 2013 Ricky Martin song of the same name, “Come With Me” is, like all the other songs here, an original composition. It’s a nice, quiet little number that adds something extra to the disc.
The Closing cut is “Cold Copper Reprise.” It is an effective final reminder of what the family can do. It also serves as an effective thematic parenthetical piece.
Overall, this disc is an honest, tuneful taste of Family Shiloh’s music and the local lifestyle. The festive family worked hard to provide new audiences with their own downhome, heartfelt personal “tribute” to the genre of Texas country music. So check out Family Shiloh’s At The Cold Copper Ranch and answer the “Cold Copper Call.”