Cowboy Tears is the perfect album to usher in 2022. Two years into a global pandemic, one would be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be able to relate with the themes that alt-pop artist Oliver Tree touches on with his sophomore full-length. Whether it’s the opener, “Cowboys Don’t Cry,” which chronicles the breaking down of a doomed relationship, the outsider anthem “Freaks & Geeks”, “Cigarettes,” which touches on addiction, or any of the vulnerable tracks in between, Oliver Tree has managed to find a way to merge humor and honesty at the crossroads of country and emo in a way that comes of as earnest and relatable.
With his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful, Oliver Tree made a name for himself by penning insanely catchy hits out of meme-worthy themes and ridiculous visuals, and with Cowboy Tears, he uses his reputation to his advantage. Songs like the upbeat “Swing & A Miss” take things on a more lighthearted route, recounting a threesome missed connection, while the following track, “Get Well Soon” details the trauma that a person can put themselves through while trying to fix someone else. “Suitcase Full Of Cash,” while bookended by comical skits, has a heavier subject as well, speaking to the obsession that society has with wealth with lyrics like, “some people are so poor that all they have is money.” Introspective songs like “Balloon Boy”, “California” and the 90’s rock-leaning, “Things We Used To Do” find Oliver Tree getting more personal before the album comes to a powerful conclusion with “Cowboy Tears,” which finds him staring down the subject of suicide.
Sonically, Cowboy Tears is a much more cohesive release than its predecessor with a very clear theme from start to finish, but that’s not necessarily what will have you hitting repeat as soon as the album comes to an end. Rather, it is the album’s emotional lyrical content and Oliver Tree’s uncanny ability to blend humor and vulnerability that’ll have you laughing and crying (and singing along) by the last note.