Blitzen Trapper / American Goldwing / Sub Pop
American Goldwing is the sixth album from Portlandia’s favourite alt-country group, and represents the continuation of a fairly stellar decade of releases from Blitzen Trapper. Some artists such as Jim Ward (Sparta, Sleepercar) might flirt with their country side now and then, but the guys in Blitzen Trapper wear their Stetsons and fringe jackets with pride, and that flavours the roots rock and folk heard throughout this record. Slide guitars, pianos, banjos and harmonicas fill out numbers(“Love the Way You Walk Away”), but they don’t break off into wild bluegrass “hillbilly chase music” instrumentals – they strictly serve the somber tone of Eric Earley’s voice, which sounds as though it’s settled into the acceptance phase of a particularly long bout with depression.
“I grow tired of this highway, it runs far but never my way,” Earley sings between sorrowful harmonica on “Stranger in a Strange Land”. By “Girl in a Coat”, the similarities between him and a young Dylan are hard to ignore. But you couldn’t last long on the roadhouse circuit if you didn’t have a few upbeat crowd-pleasers, and Blitzen Trapper are well aware of this on American Goldwing as they demonstrate on “Might Find it Cheap” and “Your Crying Eyes”. In the “happy to be back home” song “My Home Town”, the similarity to Neil Young’s classic “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” sounds more than coincidental. It almost sounds like the band stumbled upon a dusty old southern rock studio full of amps and equipment still dialed to their original fuzzy 70s’ settings, and got right to work laying these tracks down. And lucky for us, they did — these homages stand strong on their own cowboy boot-clad feet.
Download: “Might Find It Cheap”, “Love The Way You Walk Away”
[Like this album review? Find more music news and videos on Twitter]