Oklahoma Country band Turnpike Troubadours formed in 2005 and have built a successful career for themselves whilst staying independent. Their debut album Bossier City, which is also the name of their own record label, was released in 2007 but it wasn’t until the release of their third album Goodbye Normal Street, that the band enjoyed a breakthrough. Recently the band released their fifth album A Long Way From Your Heart, which is shaping up to be their most successful yet.
Fans of traditional Country music will breathe a sigh of relief when they hear Turnpike Troubadours’ new album. There’s no mixing of genres, no attempt to commercialise the genre and no desire to pander after the current sound dominating Country radio. Sitting neatly alongside artists like Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, Turnpike Troubadours have crafted an album full of wonderful stories and impressive musicianship.
The album kicks off with The Housefire, a song that gently eases you in. Frontman Evan Felker’s voice is strong as he tells the story of his house burning down and using the incident to reflect on the important things in life. He has a great way of storytelling through his lyrics and he conveys plenty of emotion in his vocal.
Something to Hold on to is a deceptively perky track that is actually about feeling close to giving up when it feels like the world has screwed you over. It has a really catchy chorus and I can imagine it sounding fantastic in a live environment. Elsewhere on the record Pay No Rent is an ode to the passing of a relative, the punchy Pipe Bomb Dream explores a brush with the law, and album closer Sunday Morning Paper laments on the sudden passing of time.
The album highlight is The Winding Stair Mountain Blues, which combines a driving beat with a tale of grief. Like many of the songs on the album, you need to spend some time unpacking the lyrics to get the most out of it but it’s certainly one of the most adventurous songs, musically and lyrically, on the record.
A Long Way From Your Heart is a record that takes a little while to get under your skin. Felker is a fine songwriter and his lyrics are as complex as they are clever. If you’re getting tired of modern Country then you should pick up this album and give it a spin as it will restore your faith in good old-fashioned storytelling.
Track list: 1. The Housefire 2. Something to Hold on to 3. The Winding Stair Mountain Blues 4. Unrung 5. A Tornado Warning 6. Pay No Rent 7. The Hard Way 8. Old Time Feeling (Like Before) 9. Pipe Bomb Dream 10. Oklahoma Stars 11 Sunday Morning Paper Record label: Bossier City Release date: 20th October 2017