3 out of 4 stars
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I devour audiobooks: in my car commuting, in the kitchen cooking dinner, and even in my garden while pulling weeds. When I say that Cosmic Cowboy the Musical by J.D. West is unlike anything I have ever listened to, you can be sure it is coming from someone with a lot of experience listening to narrators. Unlike most traditional audiobooks, this two-hour adventure is told via the third person in a screenplay format. It includes sound effects and eleven original songs written by West.
Remo, a prince on planet Vegas, hears a broadcast of Jenna Lee Jenkins singing and is drawn twenty-five light-years to find her in Nashville. Jenna is a young, struggling artist stuck with her deadbeat manager, Lance, who is only out to make a quick buck and doesn’t always have her best interests at heart. On their way home from a show at yet another lackluster venue, Jenna and Lance discover Remo’s crashed spaceship in a cornfield and hide him away in her father’s barn. They get the surprise of a lifetime when Remo regains consciousness and demonstrates his out of this world singing skills.
West spins an interesting tale that combines UFOs and the Nashville country music scene. The story has a fun combination of humor and intrigue, but where it really shines is the music. Remo’s songs center around being an alien and his love for Jenna. Jenna’s music is about forlorn love and her singing voice steals the show; her songs sound like something you would hear on the radio on a local country station. Her music was, by far, the highlight of the audiobook for me.
In no means is the story overly complex. Characters behave as one would expect and they generally fall into their typecast rolls: hayseed farmer, drunk redneck, and greedy manager. Remo’s voice is rather disturbing at times and some of the accents are a bit over-exaggerated. I found it odd that Jenna and Lance both live with their respective parents despite being represented as adults. At one point in the story, Jenna needs to borrow her father’s tractor to get into town; while funny, it raises the question of why two adults living in a house in the middle of nowhere didn’t own at least one car between the two of them. I think the story could use a little work to be a bit more believable and immersive. I’m rating Cosmic Cowboy 3 out of 4 stars.
Hardcore audiobook devotees might initially have a hard time when they starting listening to this production. The sound effects are a bit unusual to those accustomed to straight narration and the multiple voice actors make this audiobook quite unique. Listeners who enjoyed the original A Prairie Home Companion or much older radio shows like Johnny Dollar would easily sink into this tale. A love of country music helps but is in no way a requirement to enjoy this unusual musical.
Cosmic Cowboy the Musical
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