Songs full of daydreaming characters, like-minded lovers and bad situations
When the CD slid out of the envelope my first thoughts were along the lines of ‘I hope the music can live up to the cover artwork!’ In some ways it does but as I’d already decided that the music was going to be along the lines of David Olney’s Film Noir releases I was actually disappointed to find Greg Trooper actually straddles the commercial side of the singer-songwriter fence, but without the ‘edge’ that I’d hoped for from admiring the album cover.
After several car journeys with INCIDENT ON WILLOW STREET as my soundtrack I eventually managed to separate the music from the artwork and have now enjoyed what I’ve heard.
Opening track All The Way To Amsterdam is a pleasant observational love song with at least one memorable line –The sun burns like a welding torch; and Larry Campbell’s pedal-steel cuts through Stewart Lerman’s soft organ like a switch-blade through flesh.
When I first listened to the album, the Celtic flavoured Mary of the Scots in Queens made me take two steps back, as it sounds uncannily like Mike Scott from the Waterboys or possibly (as drink had been taken) latter-day Bob Dylan after some heavy use of Pro-tools; and it eventually becomes the most memorable track on the album.
That said it is run a very close race with the five minute opus Everything’s a Miracle which showcases Troopers writing and even vocal skills as he interprets his own words.
A thread weaved from British folk music makes appearances on The Land of No Forgiveness and Steel Deck Bridge, but onAmelia, Trooper pours his heart out on the first of a trio of deceptively simple pedal steel accompanied Country songs; proving what an adjustable song writer and arranger he is.
It really has taken several listens to get my head around INCIDENT ON WILLOW STREET as the artwork suggests when musical direction (I know I’ve mentioned that three times!) and Trooper takes us through both Alt. and Country music plus a couple of Celtic and British Folk influenced tracks leaving this listener slightly bemused as to what direction I was meant to be listening to. With hindsight; perhaps if the pedal steel had been used less Trooper could have made a more complete album that was more in keeping with his voice and his character driven lyrics.
Just a thought.
52 Shakes Records CD0103
UK Release – Sept 21st
US Release – Oct 21st