You don’t need to know a gang of musicians to know that they are an interesting breed – regardless of any individual musician’s backstory. Some, however, are a breed apart even among musicians. That can certainly be said for Trapper Haskins. Twenty years ago, he and his wife moved to Maine so he could learn the craft of boat building.
At age 36, he was diagnosed with diabetes, and turned his attention toward triathlons and raising funds to combat diabetes. Oh, and he also writes a pretty good song as he shows on his new album Blood in the Honey.
When you look at the track listing of this album, you see a song called “Oh, Saint Dymphna.” Maybe you’re not religious, or maybe it’s been a long time since you learned about the saints. In any case, you can be forgiven if you don’t know that she is the patroness of those suffering nervous and mental afflictions. It’s fitting then that this song seems like a confessional. The narrator sings ruefully about “when hangovers were easy and music was loud.” Over the sound of a muted electric guitar and a pedal steel, the narrator sends a plea for the saint to “row my heart back home.”
It would be easy (if incomplete) to call this an alt-country album, but “I See That Now” is a bit of a changeup. The lyrics are about realizing the mistake of pushing someone out. Meanwhile the horns add some soul to the sound – kind of like Lucero’s songs that include horns.
While it’s hard to compare any artist to Ray Wylie Hubbard, Haskins certainly draws some comparisons. You can hear the similarity not only in the dark melodies, but also in the stories. Furthermore, Haskins incorporates country, blues, and rock elements without dwelling particularly in any one. Every song from “Splittin’ Maul Blues” to the dark ballad “The Guilty One”, every song offers a little something different. No matter how you classify any particular song, they are all well-crafted with a good story.
This album shows that – like Ray Wylie Hubbard – Haskins is well on his way to being a one-man genre. It is distinctly possible that when you get to the end of the album, you might find yourself asking, “That’s it?” In other words, he leaves you wanting more. Blood in the Honey was released on April 17. Order your copy here. https://trapperhaskins.com
Trapper Haskins – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo
Ry Evans – drums, percussion
Parker Hawkins – upright bass
Cody Campbell – piano, keys
Lauryn Ross – harmony vocals
Stewart Bond – lap steel
Wes Langlois – pedal steel
Tom Boyer – accordion
Chris Black – harmonica
Jim Puckett – preacher
Paul Thacker – saxophones
Diego Vasquez – trumpet
Grant Collier – drums (“Two Years Time”)
Travis Egnor – electric guitar (“Two Years Time”)
Samson White and Quanterius Caruthers – backing vocals (“Ain’t No Trouble”)