Trampled By Turtles have been bringing us excellent bluegrass since 2004. Even though the genre (as well as its related hyphens) has recently come into vogue, the Minnesota quintet has stuck to its guns for five studio albums. Their sixth and latest release, Stars and Satellites, is no exception. It’s filled with energetic romps and fiddle-filled musings, the album is a solid addition to the band’s repertoire.
Opener “Midnight On the Interstate” feels like the album’s mission statement. It’s a subtly epic affair, neither as quiet as tracks like “Beautiful” or as frenetic as those like “Walt Whitman.” The instrumentals swell as frontman Dave Simonett sings of mixed emotions and returning home; like much of the rest of the album, this song is clearly the result of months on the road. Despite its energy-filled moments (of which it has quite a few), Stars and Satellites is a record tinged with sadness. Simonett is candid about his feelings of failure and loss: “Sorry” features the telling lyric “when you leave me, let me down easy, won’t you?” while other songs are littered with apologies.
This underlying somberness doesn’t weight the album down—it makes it all the more beautiful. Though songs like “Risk” and “Don’t Look Down” still showcase the band’s vigor and spirit, the record is wonderfully nuanced. Trampled By Turtles continue to grow, and continue to make great bluegrass.