Justin Tipton & The Troublemakers – Burn These Bridges
A late arrival but worth exploring is the 9-track debut that like most of today’s releases deals with life, love & coming back from troubled times. Justin Tipton (vocals) draws on his admiration for country, rock, blues & folk music in a Texas-roadhouse style with the grit of Steve Earle, the saloon swill of Jason & the Scorchers all mixed in a pot full of alt-country swagger.
Produced by John Pedigo (Old ’97’s) the 31-minute Burn These Bridges (Dropped March 10–Independent) was recorded in Dallas, TX with a hat tip to the vintage Southern Rock tradition of the mid-70s. Justin manages to negotiate a cool path by sounding as primal & rugged as Blackfoot, Southwind & maybe even Foghat.
As a unit, they don’t yet have the creative finesse of an Allman Brothers Band but the fire in their music crackles & ”Back To Being Me,” is exceptional with its Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar slash down fairly tight. Their smooth balladry with Frankie Leonie on “Don’t Make Me Sleep Alone,” features a more fluid guitar.
Even though some tunes have an economy of creativity, each has a credible arrangement & performance. The soulful “Some Days,” & melodic “Stay,” both deal a Tom Petty hand. But “Some Days” is overwrought lyrically with lots of rhymes & cliches. Catchy though for pop radio. As with most modern artists, their instrumentality is fine-tuned & their drive is admirable.
However, in many cases, the tunes are retreads of past endeavors by other expressive generations. “Your Momma Don’t Like Me,” is clever yet it’s a typical late 60s pop-country crawler. With a band that sounds this good, they just need songs that challenge the ear as the musicians themselves do.
More serious subjects, darker tones, upfront drums (Steve Earle’s “Waitin’ On You”) & some controversial edgy topics. Sudden shifts in tempo to surprise listeners (Del-Lords’ “Dream Come True”). It would add the necessary kick. “Shake “Em On Down,” is a knickers-down rock ‘ roller in the spirit of “Great Balls of Fire,” but because Tipton doesn’t have that Jerry Lee Lewis vocal aggression he needs to study the vocal bravado of Rocky Burnette (“Tired of Toein’ the Line”). Rock’ n’ roll ain’t dead if a Justin Tipton is feeding it.
Tipton’s voice is occasionally sweet despite his excellent approach. The band is a lit stream of gasoline. Justin needs to find a growl, a sensuality & a rock-smoldering spirit beyond the enthusiastic words. The group is tight & has the rock n’ roll thrust but they need meatier lines to allow Justin to raise eyebrows.
Musicians — Sawyer McGee (drums), Josh Vaughn (guitar), Jesse Thompson (bass/background vocals) Chris Watson & Chad Stockslager (keyboards).
Highlights – ”Back To Being Me,” “Don’t Make Me Sleep Alone,” & “Shake “Em On Down.”
Americana Highways song premiere — https://americanahighways.org/2022/09/07/song-premiere-justin-tipton-the-troublemakers-gimme-back-whats-mine/