Has it really been 2 years since Blitzen Trapper's "All Across The Land" just barged its way unceremoniously and gloriously to the top of the Square Roots "Album Of The Year" pile? It only seems like yesterday - and that's because it's an album that is never very far from a record player with its grooves slowly and surely being worn down by constant usage. A feat I suspect that the new release "Wild & Reckless" is honour bound to suffer I'm afraid.
"Wild & Reckless" pretty much picks up where its studio predecessor left off. When Blitzen Trapper release a new album there is always, i repeat ALWAYS, a cause for excited anticipation and they genuinely never let you down. The Blitzen Trapper sound, very much characterised by their clean and contradistinctive guitar licks and Eric Earley's vocals, is instantly recognisable, yet not in the slightest bit contrived or formulaic. This album is true to form as Earley's songwriting continues to push at the boundaries and blur the lines where indie meets country meets americana meets rock.
Album opener "Rebel" is everything that you want in a lead track - it's a modern day "Sweet Home Alabama", it's a musical statement of where the band come from, and very much the starting point of this album. It's a story of a life set to an infectiously bouncing, yet slightly indolent, rhythm that is coloured by simple and strident guitar lines and a chorus that just swoops on in and grabs you none-too-subtlely by the ears.
And that's exactly what Blitzen Trapper do at their very best - "Joanna" is a simple harrowing tale, but yet it's NOT simple! It's some kind of twisted English folk ballad, but set in backwater modern America, where idyllic is not ideal, and where dark characters lurk in the recesses of life and minds.
They are also masters of the sweeping modern American musical landscape - wry observation is often the key, but the way they seamlessly weave the strands of their influences together is an aural delight. "No Man's Land" and "Dance With Me" take country rock and punctuate it angularly until it's bent out of shape, just barely recognisable, but still with an immovable melodic understructure that holds everything together.
"Wild & Reckless" is Blitzen Trapper being Blitzen Trapper. They do their own thing. The fact that their "thing" is a mighty steamrollering american musical behemoth that swallows everything in it's way and regurgitates it as a sound that is as distinctive as it is impressive (and with no little commercial appeal too I should add) is neither here nor there. This is a band that really are out there on their own beating the hell out of a musical world that is grudgingly moving aside to let the Blitzen Trapper light shine through. Another masterclass in quality - TOP quality that is!
|Kronos Quartet: Folk Songs||Amelia White: Rhythm Of The Rain|
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