Monday, 12 September 2011

Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing

I'm a man of my word, so today I donned my trusty Peter Grimm Drifter hat to get into the cowboy spirit ahead of reviewing American Goldwing, the new album from Blitzen Trapper, due out on September 19th.

Viewers of The X Factor this weekend will have seen Louis Walsh bemoaning the lack of a good country singer in the UK - and the fact that the preceding performance was more like Cher Lloyd singing Dolly Parton than back-to-roots bluegrass might have something to do with that fact.

With American Goldwing, however, you have authentic banjo-and-harmonica music the way only an American group can do it. The Portland five-piece named their album, as far as I can tell, after a model of Honda motorcycle - and this is very much road music that urges the listener to get out there and see the world.

American Goldwing (Bonus Track Version) - Blitzen Trapper
High Points

The third track on American Goldwing, Love The Way You Walk Away - also out on September 19th as a single - is a vocals-sensitive pure country track lasting for an ecstatic but mellow three minutes and 40 seconds. During that time, it delivers an indulgent audio experience that, like so much country music, is both absorbing and enveloping, like a good hug. It helps still further that it's followed up by an energetic mouth-organ intro to the more rock-style Your Crying Eyes (think Status Quo brought bang up to date!).

American Goldwing, the title track, is road music at its best. A timeless composition that evokes images of long, dusty roads that reach all the way to the horizon. If you've got a journey ahead of you any time soon - even if it's just the morning commute through a rainy UK - be sure to have this one on your playlist to carry you along the way.

The Verdict

To be totally honest, I've got snakeskin boots and a CD collection full of The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Richard Thompson. I may be a little biased. But hey, the boots grab people's attention.

With that in mind, I can't help but smile when I listen to American Goldwing. It's not self-indulgent in the slightest, it's modern and relevant while retaining that classic country sound, and it gets your toes tapping at the very least. Those who know how will probably find themselves line-dancing against their will to this one.

However, it's more than 'just' country music, too. These are songs about journeys, not just physical but also emotional, and the album takes you on a journey of your own from the comfort of your sofa or car seat.

As Blitzen Trapper songwriter and lead singer Eric Earley says: "It's about those feelings of being trapped in a small town. That fine line between the rural and the suburban settings that define much of America, that line between love and loss that occurs when you find yourself taking it too easy and sticking around a lonesome town for far too long."

For those of us who have experienced that stuck-in-a-rut feeling ourselves - which, I expect, is most people at one time or another - this is yet another album to ease the pain of self-examination and help us to take our first steps out on to the open road.

Final Score: 90%

American Goldwing (Bonus Track Version) - Blitzen Trapper

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