Trampled By Turtles have wasted no time in following up last November’s big breakthrough Live At First Avenue with their seventh studio album Wild Animals; all the better to consolidate the growing attention they’ve received so far. So, forget the funny name and don’t expect any explanation. At this point in their career, the music speaks for itself. Indeed, having proven themselves worthy contenders in a highly competitive Americana arena, this Duluth, Minnesota quintet is clearly becoming a credible brand.
As before, the new album finds their songs reflecting a wide array of influences — Dylan, Townes, nu-grass, nu-folk and the like. However, given singer Dave Simmonett’s hollow-eyed vocals, it’s Neil Young that mainly comes to mind. Yet even though the title track, “Silver Light” and “Lucy” emulate Neil’s plaintive wail, there’s enough spunk and spirit permeating these grooves to elevate the energy. The sprightly delivery of “Nobody Knows” and “Come Back Home,” as well as the easy sway of “Winners” and “Repetition” ensure a festive feeling. Fiddle, banjo and mandolin add rustic appeal, tempering the band’s edgy attitude with a back-porch feel.
Ultimately, Wild Animals may not find Trampled By Turtles running amuck, but there’s enough ambition on display here to ensure immediate appeal. Make way; they’re stampeding their way to greater glories.
– Lee Zimmerman