Blitzen Trapper - All Across This Land

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:9 Release Date:2015-10-02

Portland’s Blitzen Trapper’s latest album, their eighth, starts off with a balls-out song that deserves to be a hit on FM rock radio right now. It’s a bit Little Feat, a smidge of The Black Crowes, and all of boogie woogie awesome. “Lonesome Angel” has a sweet Graham Parsons influence and could be on the latest country charts. Those two songs are just two great examples of the diverse appeal and seasoned song writing that is all over this album. Sure, some suffer from a bit too much sincerity, but that’s hardly the worst thing you could say about an artist.

Naming a song “Rock and Roll” is a gamble for even the most household name, but they bring enough freshness and respect to pull it off, with a nasty twin guitar riff-rumble taking things to the coda. Similarly, writing a song called “Cadillac Road” begs Springsteen comparisons (ditto for “Nights Were Made,” subbing in Oregon for New Jersey) and there is certainly a lot of that vibe beyond the title, particularly lyrics like: “When the mill shut down they tore down the town.” If the song had a sax solo, you’d swear it was a cover of some deep cut from Darkness on the Edge of Town or Tunnel of Love. Just the same, it’s a strong song on an album full of them.

I believe it’s safe to say that no band in the history of rock has made music without betraying their influences and preferences. It’s the process of finding one’s uniqueness amidst the rubble left from the collision of influence and individual creative force that defines an artist. If their latest release is such an indicator, Blitzen Trapper may just have reached the pinnacle of that journey of self-identity. They play their polished, roots-rock, heartland style with urgency, write lyrics that speak of lost souls across the American landscape (the album is titled All Across This Land after all), and bring to mind that oft-neglected niche of rock that defined so many great American bands during the mid-to-late ‘70s. This is a very good album by a veteran band that deserves to have their music heard by a larger population. Turn on your friends. They’ll thank you for it. 

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