Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
They just might be the best band in America right now. Sorry Drive By Truckers, but you may have to at least share the crown with these fellas. These guys play about 80 live shows a year. And let me tell you, they are one of the most amazing live bands on the planet. They are just so tight that the audience can feel it and often feed off of it. Then the energy builds into a frenzy. These guys aren’t flashy, they are just amazing on their instruments and their harmonies are out of this world.
At Americana Fest, I was hoping that the 45 minute rule didn’t apply and the Turnpike Troubadours would just keep on playing. It was not meant to be and their set ended after 45 minutes, per the rules. It was the fastest 45 minutes ever. The first thing I know, they were starting the set and then boom, it’s over. I understand the rules, it just seemed like the Troubadours were just getting warmed up when it was time to pack it up. I am thankful for the 45 minutes, I was happy to witness such a great show.
I actually remember some of the new material, although I never heard it until Americana Fest. One of those songs was non other than Pipe Bomb Dream (Track 9). I am a sucker for twang (in case you weren’t aware) and this number has twang in large quantity. It’s a shit ton of pedal steel that makes Pipe Bomb Dream stand out like a hologram. It also has that very haunted western theme to it. Again, this is absolutely good with me.
Since we are on the subject of twang, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Something To Hold On To (Track 2). This commences with a lovely, albeit short, pedal steel intro. Then the vocals kick in and the harmonies are stellar. This song is country to the core and also has some mid 70s southern rock roots. The guitars are a little bit loud and a little bit distorted. There is just enough raucousness to give this song a great edge, but it still is in harmony with the other instruments and the general mood of the song.
Pay No Rent (Track 6) shows that the Turnpike Troubadours are many things, but they are still a country band. They can play it all, but authentic country music is definitely where they thrive the most. The fiddles and pedal steel parts on this song, along with the vocals, are stupendous. Everything is in harmony and sync.
When everything comes together, it is like the best baseball or football team has just taken the field. Well, everything sure as hell came together. The “Troubadours” are so plugged into each other that even the mistakes sound incredible. I challenge you to find any mistakes on A Long Way From Your Heart. I don’t think their are any. Just proof that the Troubadours are still rising and still improving. Hold on, they still haven’t landed yet.