Review: Turnpike Troubadours – Goodbye Normal Street (Bossier City, 2012)
Opening with banjo, fiddle and a strong backbeat, this Oklahoma quintet’s third album quickly grabs your attention. Vocalist Evan Felker evinces both sorrow and anger as he surveys evidence of infidelity, singing with end-of-his-rope angst that brings to mind the heartbreak of Material Issue’s Jim Ellison and the melancholy of the Gin Blossom’s Robin Wilson. But the Turnpike Troubadours are no guitar-and-drums power pop band; they play hard-driving country that celebrates cheating the devil and laments soldiers stumbling into a revolving door of service. Felker highlights his characters with nearly invisible every day details, drawing a warm portrait of a neighborhood bar on “Morgan Street” and recounting the memories of a breakup in “Good Lord Lorrie.” There’s Cajun accordion, fiddle and second-line beats on several tunes, some Dylan-esque harmonica, and folk-styled finger picking accompanying the worried hopeful of “Empty as a Drum.” The Troubadours’ deft mix of roots musics might be too complex for Nashville to market, but this will go down well with anyone who likes hard-lived country, folk and roots-rock music.