If there’s one type of music I haven’t been able to get enough of, it’s southern rock. That and Country rock have taken up a lot of what I’ve listened to on my spare time the past month, so I was pleased when I saw the next band on my list was one that could fit in to those categories. Blitzen Trapper have been around for about fifteen years and have a good number of albums under their belt. Their eighth and latest being All Across This Land.
Typically the bands I’ve reviewed that I’ve categorized as Country Rock or Southern Rock were really done through technicality. Maybe they had a country rock sounding song or two on the album or they happened to be from the southern states and had a rock sound that I could get away with categorizing as the sort. Blitzen Trapper may be from Oregon, not exactly the most southern of states, but that doesn’t stop All Across This Land from being one of the most true roots rock albums I’ve ever been given to review, with a tinge of modernized rock to keep it a little more interesting.
From the beginning of the organic sounding opening title track All Across This Land, it was immediately clear that Blitzen Trapper know how to add soul into their rock music in just the most excellent of ways. The album only gets better with Rock and Roll (Was Made For You)‘s country twang mixed with its roots rock heart. Mystery and Wonder continues the early signs that no two songs on All Across This Land sound alike giving a softer sound, showing some terrific songwriting prowess as well as some great vocal melodies.
All Across This Land really becomes something special when Blitzen Trapper get into their “Alternative Country” roots. The steel guitar sound blended with the keyboard sounds of Love Grow Cold is nothing short of extraordinary and the Neil Young sounding harmonica sounds that introduce both Lonesome Angel and Let The Cards Fall show that Blitzen Trapper’s influences are in the best place possible. Let The Cards Fall also adds in an unexpected keyboard sound just to keep the album unpredictable.
It’s that way Blitzen Trapper just seem to know how to get that classic rock sound into their songs that makes All Across This Land different from so many other albums I have with bands trying to sound like old time rockers. But then I have to remind myself that Blitzen Trapper are indeed veterans on the scene and not just kids who recently picked up their instruments for the first time. That fact may be ever present throughout the entire album, but never more so than on the youthful retrospective track Nights Were Made For Love and the track Cadillac Road, which has to be the most serious sounding track on the entire album.
It’s on the last two tracks on All Across This Land that I notice a Bob Dylan influence in Blitzen Trapper‘s sound. Not just on these two tracks but on the entire album lead singer Eric Earley‘s voice is that of a better sounding Bob Dylan. But it is more evident on the final two tracks as they are the most folk rock sounding tracks on the album. Even If You Don’t keeps the country sound that’s heard on many of the tracks. Actually it’s one of the most country sounding songs on the album. Across The River couldn’t be more Bob Dylan influenced. There are nothing but acoustic guitars and Eric Earley’s Dylan influenced vocals with the odd harmonica heard between verses. I feel the song could be a verse shorter, but other than that I feel it justifiably ends what has turned out to be quite the output.
Now, I hadn’t heard of Blitzen Trapper before being given All Across This Land, as is usually the case for many bands I review lately. Otherwise I typically give some long and boring story about how I first came across the artist. I didn’t know that the band was signed to a major label and had so many albums under their belt upon first listening to All Across This Land, but it didn’t surprise me when I did find out. I did, however, go back and listen to some of their past recordings. I found they’ve always had a good blend of country, rock, folk and Americana in their sound, except for their penultimate VII which sounds to me like they traded their intellect for songs that might be a little more radio friendly country rock. Thankfully they’ve not only returned to their old sound on All Across This Land, but they’ve also upped themselves greatly.
Thanks for reading!
“Cadillac Road” – There are some very well written songs on All Across This Land, and there isn’t one song that I think sounds anything less than really good, but since my first listen to the album and every listen since, Cadillac Road just always stood out. It’s songwriting is just a little better, its hooks are just a little more catchy and it’s heart just beats a little harder.
9 (Out of 10)
|1.||“All Across This Land”||3:52|
|2.||“Rock and Roll (Was Made For You)”||3:46|
|3.||“Mystery and Wonder”||4:03|
|4.||“Love Grow Cold”||3:37|
|6.||“Nights Were Made For Love”||3:53|
|8.||“Let the Cards Fall”||3:30|
|9.||“Even If You Don’t”||3:31|
|10.||“Across the River”||4:41|