Look out for: Turnpike Troubadours

turnpike troubadours

Ok, I know, they released their first album in 2007 so they’re not exactly a new band. Well, they are new to me, and I reckon they should get a lot more attention than they have.

I discovered them through veteran singer/songwriter Mike McClure (I love his album, 50 Billion), I was wondering what he was doing and the name Turnpike Troubadours popped up when I looked around the web.

They have released three albums so far, all excellent. We did not include them on our year-end list for 2012, and I fear it is just as big a mistake as when we failed to include Johnathan Wilson on the 2011 list. Those things are bound to happen but it is really annoying when they do.

Gin, Smoke, Lies , great video/song beautiful shot but with a dark undertone:

They come from Oklahoma and they play a country tinged roots-rock. It sounds effortless and clever at the same time, kind of the  same way that Steve Earle or Townes Van Zandt sounds so easy at first and are so intricate and smart when you really listen.

Wikipedia has a short description of them, I guess it will expand in the near future… :

Turnpike Troubadours is an American Red Dirt group from Oklahoma composed of Evan Felker, R.C. Edwards, Kyle Nix, Ryan Engelman and Gabe Pearson. They are signed to Bossier City Records and have released three studio albums since 2007. Their 2012 album Goodbye Normal Street peaked at number 57 on the Billboard 200.

Turnpike Troubadours

The Three Albums.

Bossier City (2007):

Bossier City

The Turnpike Troubadours feature a reference to geography right there in their name, and on their album Bossier City, in song after song (including, of course, the title tune), they locate themselves in one place or another, most of those places in the Southwest states of Oklahoma (their home base), Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas (though they do recall having gone to “hell in Nashville, Tennessee” in “Rollin’ On”). The other part of the group name, troubadours, is justified by singer/songwriter/guitarist Evan Felker, for whom the band is really a platform. Felker has a twangy tenor that makes him sound like a little brother of Steve Earle and a nephew of John Prine, and there are plenty more twangs in the guitars, mandolins, and fiddles that support him in the country/folk/rock arrangements. Felker’s lyrical persona is the familiar one of a down-and-out country boy, drowning in alcohol, yet inspired by equal measures of wanderlust and hopeless romantic feelings for women he knows are out of his league. (from Allmusic.com, Read more)

I think it’s a good record, but their weakest. Not the songs (they are good!) but the production sounds a bit flat and unfinished to me. That said, it’s better than most other country/rock records from that year.

Diamonds & Gasoline (2010):
Diamonds And Gasoline

What a giant leap forward, the songs are more rock and the production is richer, more full and it suits the music perfectly. I’ve already compared them to Steve Earle and here they sound even more heartland rock, more Springsteen. Very clever but never boring.

Allmusic: There are no spare words in the Turnpike Troubadours’ best songs but that doesn’t make them any less evocative: Felker has a knack for ferreting out the details in small-town life and how love goes wrong, particularly on the terrific opening pair of “7&7” and “Every Girl.” There may be an undercurrent of melancholy that surfaces occasionally, particularly on the title track, but Diamonds & Gasoline is music that’s full-blooded and alive, so it’s hard to call this sad: it’s joyous, expertly capturing the ebbs and flows of ordinary life. (Read more)

My favourite song from the album, The Whole Damn Town:

Last year they released their best album so far, the excellent, Goodbye Normal Street (2012):

Goodbye Normal Street

Allmusic also really likes the record:

The Troubadours have a relaxed, broken-in virtuosity — they’re as comfortable kicking up the dirt on “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” as they are laying back with a summery groove on “Southeastern Son,” jerking out tears on the sad “Gone, Gone, Gone,” or rocking & rolling a Cajun-inspired groove on “Quit While I’m Ahead” — and this road-tested musicality perfectly suits the sturdiness of Felker’s songs, which never have a wasted word or melodic line. This understated nature can mean that Goodbye Normal Street doesn’t grab hold upon its first listen but it is, as they say, a grower, the kind of record that slowly reveals its depths and eventually seems like an album that you’ve always known by heart.
(Read more)

The album is an instant classic, very well-played and the songwriting is first class.

I have picked 15 songs that I think represent The Turnpike Troubadours in a fair manner, sit back and enjoy one of the best “Red  Dirt” bands around.
turnpike troubadours 2

– Hallgeir