On Mountain Time, the latest CD from Atlanta’s Clay Cook, a renowned producer and multi-instrumentalist, who currently picks in the Zac Brown Band, is an engaging, thought-provoking and no-frills roots-rock triumph. Though there are a few hiccups -––– most notably the self-indulgent “Music School Dropout” ––– the abundance of crisp mid-tempo juggernauts shows that Cook is truly coming into his own.
As much a mash-up of his two prior albums – 2005’s out-of-print debut Self Serving and 2008’s bristling The Year I Grew Up — On Mountain Timeis highlighted by the spartan “Too Scared To Run,” and the introspective “Lost Generation.” The former is a meditation on ambivalence and inactivity while the latter ruminates over complacency and unhappiness. An admitted fan of alt.country Cook wears those influences on his sleeve on the disc’s opening number and the sultry ‘Reno Desert Wind.”
The disc’s best numbers though are the hopeful “I’m Starting Today;” the rustic “Smoke Rise,” featuring members of the Zac Brown Band; and the near-perfect highway lullaby “Sleeping at 75.” On that particular cut, Cook says and does so much in just 5 minutes and 20 seconds, it feels almost criminal to think that such a song can go so widely ignored.
Though he initially made his name as the co-collaborator on some of John Mayer’s earliest hits, Cook indeed lets his true colors shine on this ever-impressive gem of a disc.