Live Review: Cowboy Diplomacy

Harvelle’s  Santa Monica, CA

Contact: Gillian Driscoll - Sound Dessert Consulting

Web: cowboydiplomacy.rodeo

Players: Ian Cochran, lead vocals, guitar; Scott Blanco, lead guitar; James Rodman, keys; Brad Bentley, bass; Matt Leslies, drums

Material: Rocking country quintet (and Texas favorite) Cowboy Diplomacy delivered a powerful showcase of their authentic hipster country music in their nine-song set  Sharing songs from their 2019 album debut, Burn Down The Road, along with latest releases, “Easier When I’m Stoned” and “Dark Days,” the southern country gentlemen delivered an authentic, honest sound with their solid, energetic band.

Musicianship: Growling vocals and gravelly lyricism joined squealing teaser guitar solos and driving drumbeats in show opener, “Long Time Coming,” with a harder rock feel and fun upbeat song cutoff in “Enemy.” “Wet” brought grinding rock tension with belting vocal growls, killer drumming, a tight guitar solo, and a funky song breakdown. The talented band of musicians provided a perfect backing to the old-school country and alternative-rock blend vocals of moody ballad, “In Deep and Too High,” sharing a more straight-ahead driving rock on new tracks, “Dark Days” and “Easier When I’m Stoned”—the latter delivering a Crash-Test-Dummy-esque vibe.

Performance: The group got straight to business with an easy buildup that quickly caught the attention of all in attendance. Engaging frontman Ian Cochran delivered captivating, organic vocals and is a natural interacting with—and performing in front of—his eager crowd. After  stepping into a more rockabilly swing flavor in easy anthem, “Bad Man,” the band shared a dynamo honky-tonk cover of “Roadhouse Blues,” packing the front of the stage full of dancers. The evening culminated with “Mountain Man”—an absolute “flannel war cry”—with stellar guitar noodling and a rockabilly punk-feeling outro.

Summary: The band’s southern country feel and incredibly unified, well-oiled sound combine with Cochran’s gritty bluesy vocals for a fabulous Kid-Rock-like, gravelly country-rock flavor. Their original material is easy for listeners to invest in with its polished musicality and there is a relaxed, fun energy and approachable, relatable demeanor from all on stage. Cowboy Diplomacy provides a fantastic container for a high-spirited celebration with your besties.