Review: Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

Blitzen Trapper’s new album, American Goldwing, their third released on Sub Pop Records and their sixth in a list of critically acclaimed LPs, holds up – with aplomb – to the Portland, Oregon, band’s signature sound: It’s a pleasingly foot-tapping, rhythmic mix of country twang and electric-edged alt rock that makes listeners want to throw on their beat up old cowboy boots and dance, from the first song to the last. 

Bits of impressive, folk-inspired guitar picking are interspersed here and there with electronic keyboard riffs, all set on a foundation of solid, hand-clap-inducing rhythms and multi-part vocal choruses. The album’s first track, Might Find It Cheap, powerfully draws listeners in from its very first, “come all ye rockers” guitar chords.

Goldwing’s eleven tracks are beautiful in their simplicity. Where perhaps they could waver a little on the monotonous side and occasionally lose listeners’ attention, the sound admirably manages to stay entertaining, whimsical, and, at times, even moving. Most of the songs adhere to the general rhythmic, foot-stomping, Skynyrd-inspired, country rock beat that is Blitzen Trapper. Others, however, slow things down and give the album the depth it needs to keep it interesting. The best of these is track six, Girl in a Coat, which wins listeners over with its steady, ¾-time, country waltz beat, its melody driven by sweet, pretty piano.

The album’s title track, which was made available for download in July, is the quintessential folk-country song. Lead singer Erik Earley’s vocals are Dylan-esqe throughout the album, but on the track American Goldwing, they are the perfect mix of Dylan with a charming hint of John Denver woven in. This melding and apparent rebirth of classic American folk musicians makes for a timeless Americana sound and one heck of a good song – and a good album.   

American Goldwing is the sort of record, when, after you get done barn dancing to it, you want to sit back in an old porch swing on a humid Tennessee night, kick off your boots, and listen to it all over again, this time with your old pal, Jim Beam. 

It is released today (Sept 12th) on Sub Pop Records         

Gisele Olson