Trampled By Turtles – Alpenglow
Coming from Minnesota this is the sextet’s 10th album with 11 tracks. Ten written by lead singer Dave Simonett & one by producer Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) – “A Lifetime To Find.” The majority of the songs deal with longing to wander, maintaining roots, nostalgia & loss & having the inner strength to keep what’s important in focus. So, what we have here is a diversified cross-section of some potentially interesting music.
While the vocals aren’t as distinguished as many vocalists with signature-style tone the bluegrass-inflected music here does have a voice in Simonett that is bright, easy to listen to & has good technique. The musicians are all superb & have a light touch Oysterband (“Street of Dreams,” ”Cry, Cry”), Spirit of the West (“Five Free Minutes”), Great Big Sea (“When I’m Up, I Can’t Get Down”) & even Pogues spirit.
Recorded in Chicago, Alpenglow (Drops Oct 28–Thirty Tigers) doesn’t lose any of its rural charms, back porch foot-stomping working-class folk music ala Poco & Marshall Tucker Band & their traditional trimmings that are only suggested should be further explored.
Each song has enough hook to make it memorable. The band & producer Tweedy have trimmed off the fat that can sometimes accumulate in this genre. There’s a vintage feel but nothing old-fashioned or retro. It’s a well-disciplined set & the teaming with Tweedy — a good choice. Always choose a producer who understands & relates to the music you try to create.
While the majority of the tunes are well-performed the jewel in the crown is “Burlesque Desert Window,” which could be played alongside Arcade Fire & Mumford & Son easily. It has a jaunty upbeat melodic striking showcase. I played it 3 times while writing. That translates to a winner.
Highlights – “It’s So Hard To Hold On,” “On the Highway,” “A Lifetime To Find,” & “Burlesque Desert Window.”
Musicians – Dave Carroll (banjo/vocals/thumb piano), Dave Simonett (vocals/guitar), Eamonn Mclain (cellos/vocals), Erik Berry (mandolin/mandola/vocals), Ryan Young (fiddle/violin/viola/vocals), Tim Saxhaug (bass/vocals) with Jeff Tweedy (acoustic guitar on “It’s So Hard To Hold On,” “Quitting Is Rough,” “On the Highway,” & “Nothing But Blue Skies”).
Photo by Zoe Prinds-Flash. CD @ https://trampledbyturtles.bandcamp.com/album/alpenglow & http://www.trampledbyturtles.com/