Ernest Troost’s O Love-CD Review
By day, Ernest Troost is an Emmy award winning composer of film and television music. His best known score is for the camp-horror classic, Tremors. But, by night, his blood is filled with the blues of the Piedmont region of the deep South, the folk songs and tales of the Appalachians and the eccentric stories of Flannery O’Connor with just a twist of the big city folk-pop sensibility of Paul Simon. The mix is a good one. Throughout his songwriting career and on his new album, O Love, he has energized and reinvented the music of the great jug bands and folk-rock icons like The Lovin’ Spoonful, equally inspired by the music of Piedmont blues.
But, Troost’s music takes us deep into the stories of his characters shaded with the moods and ordinary magic reminiscent of our own everyday epiphanies. With the support of his music, lyrics and vocal touches, he gives us the feeling of a first-hand experience, be it in the heart of the anguish that brings about the music of the blues or the celebration of the deepest realization of love. In the same way a novelist strikes our imaginations with prose, narrative, setting and character and a fine painter uses hues, shades and oil to render our deepest sorrows, hopes and dreams tangible, Ernest Troost is such an artist in intricate guitar picking weaves, lyrics and melodic texture. He is a natural outgrowth of the singer-songwriter movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s, an heir apparent who has remained true to the form of his craft and pushed it forward toward a fresh originality. His songs are accessible to the listener who craves a simple melody as they are to those who seek something more substantial in content and style. There is a distinct soul that extends out from his songs in the purity of his music, that moves through his stories, characters and insights.
On O Love Troost has enlarged his scope with rich arrangements and full instrumentations without losing the essence of his original quest into the roots of Piedmont blues and Appalachian folk expressions. Produced by Dennis Reed, Troost and Louise Hatem, O
Love includes fine musical support from Nichole Gordon and some skilled L.A. session musicians including Steve Mugalian, Mark “Pocket” Goldberg and Dave Stone with special kudos to Nichole Gordon for her soulful support on background vocals.
The album gently dances between the personal and the universal with stories and observations on the nature of love and redemption inside the tales and often unassuming awakenings, all supported by inventive, inspired and energetic music. The songs take us on along the trail of life that offers dark and light, joy and sorrow with equal honesty. “Old Screen Door,” a Faulkian tale of family tragedy is fused with a jump-boogie-blues backbeat, a tremolo guitar rhythm and a piercing electric guitar that both haunts and moves. As the opening song, it signals that something new is afoot for Troost on this new outing. He returns immediately to the familiar Piedmont base on “Pray Real Hard,” which includes a remarkable rhythm section paired with some fine harmonica work. Other tunes are drawn from his acoustic based Live at McCabe’s album including the title song, “O Love,” which is given a full reading adding dimension to the blues-laced dread of impending death. “Close” is an open-aired and beautifully realized love song, a reminder of how love blossoms with freedom and grace. “Harlan County Boys” is a cinematic ballad of generations of a Kentucky coal mining family.
With the tradition of American storytelling seeming, at times, like a lost art and natural, unadorned country-folk-blues something lost in time, Ernest Troost continues to keep alive our most precious musical traditions in contemporary and inventive ways that both challenge and refresh his audience.