‘I’m a bad man / Head to toe’: and that’s just for starters.
The introduction comes across like a country/lounge version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman, or even a Smash Mouth cut. Although rhythmically very different, I’m also briefly put in mind of Iggy Pop’s The Passenger when the chorus kicks in. But before long Cowboy Diplomacy’s Bad Man succeeds at marking out its own territory.
Featuring a lead vocal from frontman Ian Cochran that’s assured, growly and bursting at the seams with character and attitude, Bad Man grooves its way through 3 and a half minutes in a laid back way that’s genuinely satisfying.
There are smart change-ups from the metre of the rhythm section, and the use of handclaps, snare and cross-stick creates all sorts of sonic light and shade that keep the listener glued to the groove.
The guitar is mixed nice and loud and the bass busily keeps its riffs nailed down, both working in symphony with the drum parts to provide a rock solid platform that promotes the lead vocal. There’s enough muscle here to flesh out the traditional rock roots of the composition, but there’s also a sensitivity and intelligence to the arrangement that marks out the tune as one that’s been lavished with some real care.
Lyrically, Bad Man explores the inner workings of… well, a bad man – and explodes the version of the myth that these creatures are incapable of feeling or redemption.
In a timeless production that feels simultaneously classic and contemporary, there are plenty of hooks in the melody and backing vocal arrangement to make the insistent motifs memorable.
All-in-all, it’s a bit of a shimmying, shaking, belter of a tune!