There’s a growing expectation that the Turnpike Troubadours are going to release a new album soon. It has certainly been a while since ‘A Long Way From Your Heart’ in 2017. Long before the band’s reboot, the romantic distractions, the cancelled shows and the hiatus, the Turnpike Troubadours’ recorded ‘Diamonds & Gasoline’ and instantly endeared themselves to many. There have been albums highlighting the journey from youth to adulthood in a small town before, charting the inevitability almost of dreams turning into reality. On ‘Diamonds & Gasoline’, Evan Felker’s words had warmth and sincerity, while the band played some very infectious music. Music that sounds organic and so familiar yet still totally fresh. Despite many songs having quite a sad subject matter, this album somehow makes you feel good.
The first two songs showcase this band’s songwriting and musical qualities straight away. ‘Every Girl’ is a wonderfully crafted song and introduces the almost trademark impatient drumming and fired-up bass, only held in check by Felker’s won’t-be-hurried delivery. Mix in some tasty guitar work from Ryan Engleman and a lot of weaving in and out from Kyle Nix on fiddle, and you have their take on Oklahoma’s Red Dirt sound. ‘Every Girl’ isn’t bro-country with its casual misogyny. This is admiration and respect for the girl of the band’s dreams. “She dont talk about religion, She talks about the Stones, She’s every girl I’ve ever known”. 7&7′ just aches. Imagine catching sight of an old flame in a supermarket and feeling so unworthy that you avoid a meeting by turning your shopping cart around. “I had no clue I’d be the boy who your mama warned you about”
Another standout track is ‘The Funeral’. A return to town for a wayward prodigal son, with a magnificent opening verse:
“Well now stage right enter Jimmy, just a counterfeit James Dean
With a pocket full of delta blues and cheap amphetamines
Her feet up on the dashboard like a burned-out Betty Paige
She might have been pretty if she were half her age
But together they were something just a-closing down the bars
Headed down to Okie City in a slightly stolen car”
The beautiful title track ‘Diamonds & Gasoline’ is less amped-up but well suited to the storytelling. Being short on money, the dilemma is to spend it all on a token of love or put gas in the tank. “If I can’t afford you darling then I can’t afford to dream” And then to finish a glorious cover of John Hartford’s, ‘Long Hot Summer Days’.
There are often snobbish opinions expressed towards the country genre. The Turnpike Troubadours continue to make it cool and they may now be about to get the recognition and large audiences their talents deserve. Many have been influenced by the Turnpike Troubadours since 2010 but this country album has yet to be surpassed. It just seems to get better with time.
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