More than a few of the critics I’ve read have been hard on this album, and i’m here to tell you they’re wrong. The bar is high for Blitzen Trapper, who have produced some of the most interesting and innovative experimental country of the past decade, but if you come at Across This Land expecting Furr or American Goldwing, you will surely be disappointed. They’re not going for that this time. They’re focusing on creating rootsy, well-written pop songs. But the lyrical depth is still there, under the smooth and polished veneer, as is the wonderful musicianship. If for no other reason, listen to the blazing guitar solo at the end of Rock and Roll (Was Made For You). It should dispel the comparison’s I’ve read of this album to 1970s AM radio (i.e., the kind of soft country rock you’d hear from America).
BT’s other album this year was a cover of Neil Young’s, “Harvest” record. That should have been an indication to fans that the band has, for whatever reason, decided to stick to basics this year. “We were stupid, strange, and young at heart, and all we wanted was to rock and roll.” This is an album about music. About loving music. About life with a soundtrack. It’s almost, in fact, a tribute.
Seen through the prism of a pallet cleansing, this album makes sense. And when you look at where the industry is today, it’s good to get a reminder that simple songwriting can touch your heart and make you tap your toes.