Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Album: Wild & Reckless
Label: LKC Recordings
Release Date: 11.3.17
Like an old, rundown cabin slowly decaying in the woods, 2008’s Furr is a somewhat forgotten classic of literate, modern Americana. Acclaimed as one of that year’s best records by legions of critics, Blitzen Trapper’s fourth album embedded stories of dark-hearted killers and western civilization’s demise in rustic, autumnal folk and alt.-country foliage.
The scenery was pretty, with its well-crafted melodies, engaging hooks and interesting forays into British Invasion-style pop and ‘60s psychedelia, but there was trouble bubbling underneath its floorboards. Made of similar stuff, Wild & Reckless is Furr’s true sequel, a sprawling work that expands on that LP’s disturbing lyrical themes with a sci-fi vision of a Western dystopian future, more violent deaths and the struggles of a cop turned Hollywood Hills cocaine dealer.
Some songs on Wild & Reckless were featured in Blitzen Trapper’s Portland Center Stage production of a similarly titled rock opera. It must have been some show. With its nostalgic bent, youthful abandon and full-on, Springsteen-like fervor, the title track is born to run, while the bleak acoustic rendering of “Joanna” quietly describes impoverished circumstances and fights rough abuse. Evoking Blonde on Blonde era Dylan, “Wind Don’t Always Blow” rides a lovely terrain of rolling folk hills bathed in a radiant chorus, whereas “Stolen Hearts” and “Love Live On” weave pretty thrift-store dresses of simple country-rock beauty blown about by breezy, soulful backing vocals.
Rummaging through Wild & Reckless is a little like visiting the old A&P. Even the memorable first single “Rebel” – a golden lariat of a song – feels shopworn. When they punch out a sharp, power-pop gem like “Dane with Me” or groove to the soft-focus ‘70s funk/R&B of “When I’m Dying,” Blitzen Trapper is more like a shiny new Trader Joe’s.