Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Album: All Across This Land
Release Date: 10/02/2015
Blitzen Trapper’s All Across This Land oozes the twangy folk-rock vibes central to the Portland, Oregon-based quintet since 2003’s self-titled debut and all the way up to 2013’s VII. All Across This Land offers a tamer version of Blitzen Trapper’s early experimental prog-rock days. The title track is first on the disc and hails from Southern rock roots in a catchy country guitar riff and gritty vocals. The song shrinks into a melodic interlude with a sentimental, romantic ambiance before ending in an explosion of rock guitar. The 10-track LP offers some modern indie elements, like light triangle tings following wise words, “The things you love, they can do the most harm” in “Rock and Roll (Was Made for You).” The track’s electric guitar shreds, which in fact are key to the entire disc, are true to the title. “Mystery and Wonder” is a nostalgic throwback to 15-(later in the song, 17 and 29)-year-old love, taking a particular path where the road splits, and living with no regrets.
Lyrics are refreshingly blunt and both simplistic and nostalgic. “What makes us write our lives, man, you know what I mean?” applies to the phenomenon of the entire songwriting culture. Then, “Love Grow Cold” has a subtle ’80s vibe to its sound with tinny synth moments surfacing under a faded alt-ballad surface. “Lonesome Angel” and “Nights Made for Love” explore a soft side, hailing to youthfully romantic rural Oregon roots. The tin synth reappears with soft harmonies and keys in the latter, and the overall aura takes you on a trip down memory lane. That lane reappears as a dirt road in “Cadillac Road,” and harmonica and harmonies grace the folksiest song on the disc, “Let the Cards Fall.” “Across the River” closes the album as a parallel to “All Across This Land.” Maybe just crossing the river is really all Blitzen Trapper did for this disc, not expanding boundaries too far, but just enough to create a solid project that explores new territory but stays in the same, familiar region.
– Kalyn Oyer