Paul Cogley’s songs tell stories that can linger with you a long time.
Often they deal with restlessness and loss. Yet the songs have an upbeat feeling because at their core they are about hope. Hope, that is, combined with more than a dash of patience.Cogley’s unlikely journey to songwriting has something to say about being patient for your moment to arrive.
Originally from New York, for many years Paul Cogley lived in Nevada City, California where he worked as a firefighter, heavy equipment operator, freelance comic book critic for the SF Chronicle, and, eventually, the town’s city planner.
He is an admirer of the great songwriters who he calls “the heavy hitters who span the decades.” For years he honed his skills at open mics in bars and clubs, covering favorites songwriters from McTell to VanZandt.
Returning to New York City to take a new job, he put away the guitar and took a hiatus from music. However, music wasn’t gone from his life, just laying low.
“One day I picked up my Martin and out came a whole new song,” he says. “It rambled on quite a bit, but grabbing it out of the air and getting it down meant a lot to me. Music always seems to help me define myself.”
Cogley wrote a batch of tunes and, looking beyond his customary horizons, took aim to record them. In time, a band was put together for a recording project.
Cogley and the band recorded 12 tracks, creating a sound not heard much anymore. Keeping pace with Cogley’s ripping band were the songs themselves, which showcased a potpourri of Americana influences and have a cross-generational appeal.
“These are songs I really like,” says producer JC Hopkins, whose own tunes have been covered by Willie Nelson. “Paul didn’t fire a single blank. It’s all accessible yet complex music here.” The album “American Hill” was released in 2013.
Cogley continues his songwriting, recording, and performing pursuits. His first follow-up to American Hill features five new songs on the EP, “Like Never Before.”