“A Cat in the Rain” – Turnpike Troubadours (2023) [english]

Hopes were long gone.

The hopes of seeing together one of the greatest bands in the history of country music and red dirt: Turnpike Troubadours.

It had been 2 years since the hiatus of May 2019, in that end of 2021, when the network began to get into turmoil.

On November 29, 2021, it was a post on the band’s social media. Nothing special, but absolutely magical for their fans: a photo of the 6 members of the group together again, again in the same room. A new post, not a photo of the huge archive of pre-2017 photos.

The network, I remember well, in the American country music scene literally exploded.

They were months when they ran after posts and news and then the announcement of a new tour: they were back!

I approached this band late, I met them who were already in the phase that would have led them to the dissolution, but being away I did not live those years when the problems of Evan Felker, leader of the band, ruined their reputation as a concert war machine.

But the excitement of seeing them together was so great and it was a hope that I had written in my review of their latest studio album (https://www.trexroads.com/a-long-way-from-your-heart-turnpike-troubadours-2017-english/).

I never thought that hope would not be in vain given the news that in recent years had arrived especially on the fully recovered Felker: music was no longer a priority.

The site of the band and the clubs where they announced they wanted to play in 2022 were stormed, went down and began the frantic ticket hunt.

First date of course in the local that saw them born and grow until the boom of the following years: the Cain’s Ballroom, the one between Easton & Main (as in their wonderful song that I included in my novel and that will be its protagonist and that I hope will be released next year here in Italy, ed).

But then especially the Red Rocks Arena in Morrison, Colorado. The most beautiful arena in the world and what better place, the guys from Talequah, Oklahoma, will have thought for a nice live stream.

Obviously I immediately bought my virtual seat and from my sofa, at 3 in the morning, equipped with headphones I enjoyed a crazy concert.

They were back for real, the problems solved and Evan Felker never so fit, but also the brilliant violin of Kyle Nix, the magical guitar of Ryan Engelman, the pulsing bass of RC Edwards, the pounding drums of Gabe Pearson and the fantastic pedal-steel of Hank Early: ladies and gentlemen, the Turnpike Troubadours.

The year passed with chase news and interviews with members happy to be back to being a band, but nothing new on the horizon despite some knowledgeable occasionally leaked news.

The news was confirmed in 2023: the console to direct the band there was the great Shooter Jennings and August 25, 2023, after six years of waiting, would be released the new album of the band: A Cat in The Rain, recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (note this place because it will be important in the spirit of some songs.)

Here I finally talk about a new album of Turnpike Troubadours and I immediately start by telling you that they are really back, indeed the maturity, the tranquility and the poetry with which they guide us and give us these 10 pearls leave us really amazed.

Don’t get me wrong Evan Felker has always been known for his ability to write stories full of details in the manner of great storytellers, but in these pieces (at least in the 8 autographs), it is exceeded and these texts are so vivid that they seem written in 4K, while most of the other songwriters remained at HD.

I was talking about 8 autographed songs because there are two covers on the album: a fantastic version of Black Sky of the never quite celebrated Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the final Won’t You Give Me One More Chance song already taken by the great Jerry Jeff Walker.

The work begins with the first single Mean Old Sun, a song that starts from afar, as an echo, as if to leave a bit of suspense, as in these years of news chasing each other.

The piece is dragged, Nix’s magic violin intertwines with the banjo and an almost epic rhythm: Felker makes amends for his mistakes and tells us that he is back, to stay, this time.

The following Brought Me is a declaration of love and thanks for those who love them and continue to push them to make music: and for Felker are his wife Staci and their fans.

A song that choirs make almost an anthem, which will take hearts live. Engelman’s solo intertwined with Early’s is short, but beautiful.

Lucille is a typical Turnpike song, but immersed in the swamps of Muscle Shoals: there is a taste of soul in this album that gives further character to the recognizable and original sound of the guys of Talequah, Oklahoma. Female characters have always been the best traced by Felker’s stories and this is no exception.

The dusty ballad The Rut tells us about a cowboy who rides and meditates on his life and you can’t help but catch Felker’s most autobiographical note ever written: “I don’t miss the taste of liquor / or really anything about it, but / The temporary shelter was a welcome compromise”.

Here, the story of these 4 years is all encapsulated in this sentence: the struggle for sobriety, taking refuge in a remote ranch in Texas to find himself and return to be a better man for him, for family, for friends and for his fans. Beautiful, intense and moving. Evan’s voice has never been so evocative and poignant.

The title track talks about how you should always stay strong and not let down by adverse fate and the song is a country rock veiled red dirt dust.

Kyle Nix’s violin had missed American music, of course there had been his solo parenthesis, but here it finds a perfect dimension and gives the sound of Turnpike the magic of the golden years.

East Side Love Song is a song 100% Turnpike, in the sense that these guys have a sound so personal and recognizable, they managed to mix country, rock and red dirt, that now such a song is typical of them: you can only imitate them or be inspired by them.

It’s a miracle that they’re so popular in the state or even internationally, if you think about the kind of music that’s anchored in their roots and their land, and that’s why the merit of these guys is even greater.

I would not call it a return, but a new life: because Felker with that choice to devote himself to himself, to abandon the bandwagon that was killing him and reflect on his life, gave a turn of 180°.

Not to their way of making music that remains independent and light years away from any kind of mainstream influence, but to the way of approaching life that is reflected in 10 songs of a sparkling beauty.

You can enjoy a relaxed band, quiet, that knows how to go wild when it has to, but that appreciates the beauty of their poems and that, playing together again, creates a magic that seemed forgotten by the sands of time and instead you stand in front of us like an old friend back to smile with us.

Welcome back, you guys!

Good listening,

Trex Willer by http://www.ticinonotizie.it

(in Ticino Notizie web site you can find original italian version of this article)

Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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