The Turnpike Troubadours, hailing from middle America (Tahlequah, OK, to be exact), offer listeners genuine heartfelt lyrics over the backdrop of perfectly balanced old-timey, twangy instruments that are heavy on the fiddle and pedal steel guitar. This band epitomizes Americana music at its best, which at times is reminiscent of the Avett Brothers and Robert Earl Keen, and while this style might not be a favorited genre amongst music fans, the Turnpike Troubadours just might help the category gain a few converts.
Comprised of lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Evan Felker, bassist R.C. Edwards, fiddler Kyle Nix, pedal steel and electric guitarist Ryan Engleman and drummer Gabe Pearson, the Turnpike Troubadours’ self-titled fourth album pulls listeners in right from the first track with the five-member outfit’s driving beats and Midwestern drawl. Each member of the band is individually talented, but when joined together to perform as a group, they create a sonic vibe that is uniquely all their own with country-rock and roots characteristics.
The 12-track Turnpike Troubadours has an organic sound, with the band basically recording until they got it right. Listening to the album makes you feel like you’re at a barn dance in rural America, particularly on a couple of tunes, including “Easton and Main” and “7 Oaks,” during which one can practically picture a country line dance happening.
Although the tunes may have an uplifting and catchy sound, if listened to carefully many of the lyrics are a bit dismal, particularly on “Fall Out of Love,” which will really hit a nerve with those who have experienced such a situation. Perhaps the most appealing element of the album is that the songs make the band members seem accessible and real, spinning tales that are universally applicable and played over melodies and rhythms that are easy to get into.
Formed in 2005, the Turnpike Troubadours have gained quite the following over the years, commonly drawing thousands of people to shows in their home state and nearby Texas. Hopefully they will bring the party to New York State, because it would be hard to picture having a bad time at one of their shows, but for now, you’ll just have to settle for their latest album.
Key Tracks: “7 Oaks,” “The Bird Hunter,” “Fall Out of Love”