Hallelujah! New music from the Turnpike Troubadours has finally came. It had been three long years since we got new music from the Oklahoma group when they released their Goodbye Normal Street album in 2012. With the amount of reverence and respect the Turnpike Troubadours are held up to, you would think this group has been around for decades. In actuality this is only their fourth album. It speaks volumes of the talent level of this group and the quality of their music. Their new self-titled album has been hyped for months in Red Dirt and traditional country circles. Hell this album reached #12 on the Americana chart before it was even released. So now that their new album is here and I’ve listened to it numerous times, I can say this right up front: This album is fantastic and you need to listen to it as soon as possible if you haven’t yet. And even if you have already, go listen to it again.
The album opens with “The Bird Hunters,” a song about a man reflecting back on breaking up with a woman while he hunts with his buddy and dog. He can’t stop thinking about those days and being with her, even though his buddy and even himself realized that he’s better off the relationship crumbled. The song tells an intriguing love story that I’m sure many could connect with. And not only are the lyrics good, but also the fiddles are loud and proud too. “The Mercury” is a fun and rocking song that I can imagine will be an absolute blast live. The instrumentation on this song is flat-out fantastic. The next song “Down Here” is like a stranger we have known for years. It’s new, but feels so familiar. The song is about riding high and then having it all crash down, but then being reminded that everyone else has done the same, so it’s all good. The song has a great message, not to mention the lyrics and instrumentation are catchy as hell too.
The Troubadours sing about winning the attention of a woman in “Time of Day.” The man in the song is begging just for a chance with this woman, as not many like her come his way. It’s a fun little love song. One of the slower songs on the album is “Ringing in the Year.” It’s about a man wondering if a woman he loved from his past ever thinks about him still. The memory of her haunts him and not even the cheap champagne he drinks as New Year dawns gets her out of his mind. As great as the Turnpike Troubadours are at making fun songs, they’re just as great making these heartbreak songs too. “A Little Song” is another slow song where the Turnpike Troubadours songwriting shines. It’s a sweet love ballad that a man sings to his woman to remind her how much he loves her. Things have gotten rocky in their relationship and he wants to express to her how much she means to him.
One of my personal favorites on the album is “Long Drive Home.” It’s a song about a man who has seen his woman leave him and wonders why she can’t accept him for who he is. Later in the song the Troubadours sing about how if you want something bad enough you have to suffer some to get that success. Some might interpret this part of the song as a critique on the current state of country music. Regardless, this is the type of feel good country song that makes it easy to love the Turnpike Troubadours. It’s just pure Red Dirt goodness and a perfect example of the best the sub-genre has to offer.
The Turnpike Troubadours sing of falling in love in “Easton & Man.” A man laments that he left his heart in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the corner of Easton and Main in Cain’s Ballroom where he fell in love with a girl. Lead vocalist Evan Felker really conveys the emotion of the song well and makes the song even better with his vocal performance. The most fun song on the album has to be “7 Oaks.” The combination of the piano, fiddles and harmonica really shine and show the talent of the entire band. The song itself is about a man being flat broke and having to hand over everything owns to the bank. But before he does that he’s going to plow his field up and burn the house down because why not. He’s going to go live on his family land where he doesn’t have to pay any taxes and can live free. This is another one of the standouts on the album.
The Troubadours cover the Old 97’s song “Doreen” next (shout out to New Slang for pointing this out to me). It’s a frenetic-paced song about a man dreaming that his woman was in the arms of another man. He finally can’t take it anymore and has to call her to see if she really is cheating. When he calls her the phone rings multiple times, leading to heavy speculation that his dream really was reality. The band really does the song justice and fits perfectly with this album. “Fall Out of Love” is about a man wondering how he and a woman fell out of love with each other. Judging by the lyrics, the woman was expecting him to propose and he didn’t, which is what led to them breaking up. It’s another song where the Turnpike Troubadours beautifully capture the emotion of a song and convey it perfectly.
The album closes out with “Bossier City,” a song that should be quite familiar to longtime Turnpike Troubadours’ fans. It was the title track of their very first album from 2007 and the name of their label, Bossier City Records. It’s kind of appropriate to go back to where it all began, considering the band has changed since then. The most notable change being that then the lead singer of the group was John Fullbright, who is now off as a solo artist, and now the lead singer is Felker. But despite these changes this group is still great as ever and still making some of the best damn music today.
With the return of the Turnpike Troubadours, marks the return of arguably the best Red Dirt group today. Really they’re one of the best groups in music today. This album is definitive proof of it and I hope we never have to wait three years for another album again. If you’re a fan of country music, this album is a must-buy. We can only hope that this album is what launches this group to even greater heights. You won’t find many better than the Turnpike Troubadours.