“It's an honour it's been a thrill/ telling you boys my stories before I head for the hills/ for all your misses, hold your heads high/ don't stand by, don't watch yourselves cry/ I hear your stumbling around/ searching for something that might never be found/ and I feel your hurt again/ don't go running with ghosts you'll never win.” - Running With Ghosts - Megan Cooper-Benjamin Hale.

Brisbane singer-songwriter Megan Cooper had good reason to have deep sympathy for a local football star forced into early retirement from his all-consuming career.

Megan also quit an early passion for flamenco dancing that was cut short by painful ankle injuries.

Instead she changed careers for singing, song-writing and performing that has taken her across the world since being a finalist in the Tamworth Toyota Star Maker, Music Oz and Q Song talent quests.

“I used to train to be a flamenco dancer until I injured my ankle so I ended doing plays instead,” Cooper recalled.

“There I met one of the cast members who was wearing a Dixie Chicks tee shirt. We ended up going to a country music festival. I was hooked.”

So Cooper put her post footy career advice to the retired athlete into Running With Ghosts - one of the song highlights of her second album Wild Mountain that followed an EP North and 2013 debut album Ghosts, Choirs and Kings.

Cooper was inspired to write it by the newspaper story of a local footballer who was nearing the end of his career that had been his whole world.

Running with Ghosts tells the young athlete's story and carries a potent message: don't chase past glories, instead write your own history.

Brisbane videographer Jason Millhouse filmed the video in a friend's backyard at the height of Brisbane 's storm season.

"Jason's vision, the loose haunting narrative, the hills hoist plus the steamiest afternoon ever made for the perfect background to the song," Megan revealed when her single preceded release of her album on July 20.

Equally memorable is the evocative metaphor fuelled Lightkeeper (Jenny's Song.)

Lightkeeper was written for my ancestors,” Cooper explained.

“My family mean the world to me and I'm proud of where I come from.”

Cooper also injects passion into revenge anthem Side Of Love with its mountain and desert soundscapes and revives the outlaw freedom spirit in Ticking Away.

There's different time travel in Love And War where there are no winners and false materialistic promises of For All Your Worth .

Salient sequencing enables the rollicking optimism of End The Night and the jaunty sardonic spoof Poor You to be a jovial journey and album finale.

Novocastrian Michael Muchow produced the album, featuring 11 originals by Megan, at Moko Productions in Dora Creek.

Muchow also co-produced fellow Novocastrian Catherine Britt's seventh album in her Beverley Hillbillies studio.

Benjamin Hale co-wrote Running With Ghosts and For All Your Worth with Megan and Kahl Wallace was her collaborator on the title track and backing vocalist.

Multi-instrumentalist Muchow joins fiddler Salliana Campbell, drummer Mick McCartin, pedal steel guitarist Danny Widdicombe, double bassist Ben Conicella and keyboard player Cameron Milford on the disc sweetened with backing vocals by Deanna Rose.


"When we come falling down/ the safest place is higher ground.” - Wild Mountain - Megan Cooper-Kahl Wallis.

Cooper has a not so secret ingredient in the salt of her songs - she wrote most tunes on her new album in her friends' kitchens and on the verandahs of their homes.

"My music tends to be about common hearts and normal people living their life," revealed Cooper who tries to lace her sad songs with humour.

Cooper said she always tried to be optimistic when writing.

"If people have never heard your music before, you need to give them a laugh to help them access the story.

“There's a city or town for every song. I've said exactly what I wanted to say on this album and as an artist I couldn't be prouder of the leap from the last record to this one.”

Cooper, who toured with Kiewa Valley singer-songwriter Gretta Ziller to promote her album, name-checked Brisbane streets Roma and Ann in her ruptured romance requiem Hurt and echoed that pain in entrée song Bluer Than Mine .

"It wasn't until recently we did a show together," Cooper said of Gretta who hails from Thologolong near Wodonga in the Kiewa Valley and also toured with Berwick singer Andrew Swift and Lynn Bowtell to promote her debut album Queen Of Boomtown .

"But we believe in that same sense of entertainment, we sing each other's songs."

Megan, who met Gretta about five years ago, said their work is storytelling.

"We're songwriters and storytellers and entertainers, our ears are always open," explained Cooper who started in her duo Two for the Show , trio The Pretty Pennies and in folk clubs, jazz quartets and orchestras.

She worked the local festival circuit that included Tamworth, Urban Music Festival at Caboolture, Sunset Sessions (QPAC ), Fete de la Musique (Brisbane City Council), casinos, theatres, RSLs, pubs and footpath busking.

But it was after the 2008 CMAA College of Country Music graduate appeared in 2009 production of Minefields And Miniskirts - a play depicting the life of five Australian women and their connection to the Vietnam War - she spread her wings.

Cooper and Tamworth raised singer Ashleigh Dallas have refuelled the rootsy femme fatale torch ignited many moons ago by Kasey Chambers and Catherine Britt.

She may share a penchant for ghosts with Dallas but she followed Kasey and Catherine on overseas journeys that enabled her to soak up Americana influences for her writing.

So it was a trip to the American Deep South that fuelled fires and fantasies of her search for love, fulfilment and the truth.


Golden Guitar winning producer Michael Muchow also helmed her five song EP North and her 13 track debut album Ghosts, Choirs and Kings that she launched in her home state in 2013.

Cooper blazed her own trail on eclectic fusion of bluegrass-roots country-folk with tales that name checked Virginia , Texas and pastures of plenty far afield on her debut album.

She wrote 12 of the 13 tunes on a disc she opened with Virginia Fall - a lost love lament that by-passes Kentucky and never reaches promised altars of journeys that falls short after excess liquid refreshment by the male traveller.

The singer cleansed the bad memories and shackles in Clean , propelled by Gary Steel's accordion, and finds oxygen in her newfound freedom in the angelic Edie Rain.

Cooper dispenses with a cheating recidivist lothario in the guitar and drum driven Old John that segues into the positive paean Texas where the state is used as a metaphor for the size of the character's love for an absent lover.

But it's her own tunes - the haunting Loser's Game where the ghosts make their eerie entrée and equally bleak Pretend - that reach deep into her psyche.

Perhaps the album pinnacles are joyous Jailsong where she bends her gender - not genre - rollicking 27 Degrees and drenched imagery of Floodsong that exploit climate changes of a different kind.

A fitting finale is the assertive anthemic I Promised Myself where the singer tightens the reins of her self-control.

She deserves widespread airplay - maybe the Americana stations across the ocean will be her reality raft and vibrant vehicle to propel her way beyond our distant shores.

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