With a title that says it all, Portland’s Blitzen Trapper have gone back to their roots for their latest album All Across This Land. In a return to classic rock and roll, the album fleshes out the band’s experimental country sounds with big beats and blues inspired riffs; committing to record the truer feel of their live shows. Not only musically, All Across This Land is the classic Americana narrative, which sees tory telling and mountain music blending rock with the timeless, authorless music of America.
The title track, All Across This Land, launches out with a big blues rock riff backed up by keys and Rolling Stones style ‘hoo hoo’ backing vocals. Resting Eric Earley’s husky vocals on acoustic rock guitar and an electric solo on reverberating drums, Blitzen Trapper know what they’re about describing this as “classic rock and roll”. Leading into the equally rocking, and aptly named Rock and Roll, which is a familiar ode to that irresistible mistress – rock music. Hitting all the right notes with recognisable chord progressions and lyrics that conjure up a true american love story, the song is propelled along by a duelling guitar solo and some nice splashy drumming.
Based on a true story, Cadillac Road also tells the tale of a small town life. Inspired by the closing of the town’s life force, the mill, the song touches on Dylan style storytelling. Letting the piano lead on this one, Cadillac Road sings out more than the pure rock tracks. An anthemic chorus is backed up by a full bodied layering of sound, and a soaring solo lends an emotion. Giving into true country on tracks Let The Cards Fall, steely string bends and harmonica solos are evocative of that mountain music and good old country boys. The vocal on this one is catchy and direct, but a string section doesn’t quite work out. A fiddle would have been a ham handed, but the orchestral sound clashes alt rock or brit pop with this real american release.
The final track Across The River finishes on some real country finger picking and is a definite nod to Dylan. Earley’s gritty voice against the guitar and harmonica, singing of walking “gently into that night”, it’s a sweet ending. Touching on the age old father son story, lyrics like “swallowed up in blue” are delivered knowingly. It could be a little shorter to be that bit sweeter, but it’s a sign off that leaves a lasting impression of America, and the romance between a country and it’s music.