On the Road Again
Blitzen Trapper have spent a career exploring the nooks and crannies of alt-country. From the folk-rock of Furr to the more progressive Destroyer of the Void, the Portland sextet has helped bring the genre and all its nuances back into the spotlight. With American Goldwing, they’ve returned to a purer form: it’s less experimental than earlier works (certainly the critically acclaimed Destroyer), and unabashedly country-rock. The album may not be breaking new ground, but it’s a sure-footed rock ‘n roll romp.
Named after a Honda motorcycle, Goldwing tells iconic tales of traveling across America’s heartland. The album features a cast of characters often yearning for either home or escape; they “drink whiskey along the tracks,” jump in rusty trucks, and feel restless for “taking it easy too long.” While these sentiments and details are familiar parts of the American narrative, they feel utterly authentic in Blitzen Trapper’s retelling. Frontman Eric Earley sounds like a Petty/Dylan hybrid, successfully paying tribute to those influences without seeming like imitation. Songs like “Love the Way You Walk Away” and “My Home Town” certainly adopt a Petty-esque openness, and provide some of the album’s strongest moments. Goldwing is most successful when it’s both sweeping and relaxed: the giddy relief of hitting the road seems to shine right through.
The album may not be daring, but it’s certainly confident. Even as Earley sings of weariness and insecurity, you can’t help but feel that it’ll all work out fine—as soon as he hops on a motorcycle. American Goldwing, with its timeless stories of coming and going, reminds us of the promise of wide open spaces.