Portland, Oregeon’s cosmic folk-rock weirdos Blitzen Trapper return to the American backwoods on their 6th release, American Goldwing. The prog-rock/British folk flavors exercised on the previous record, ‘Destroyers of The Void’ have been substituted for other cross-Atlantic influences (Stones, T-Rex, and a heavy dose of The Faces), and it shows on the 1-2 openers, Might Find it Cheap and Fletcher.
The cool kid, bearded beauty that underscored 2008’s breakout, their 4th record, Furr, makes a return throughout but the experimental-electro country rock stylings of the band’s earlier records are almost gone here. Instead we’re treated to stellar warm production, subdued performences and traditional songcraft. Eric Early’s prettier compositions tip tap between soft, Dylan-esque wanderings (Girl in the Coat, Stranger in a Strange Land, Taking it Easy Too Long) and a heavy dose of 70s folk-rock swagger (Street Fighting Sun, Astronaut). The closer, Stranger In a Strange Land, being one of the prettier songs he’s written over the course of 6 rewarding records, sings like a love song to fellow, tired, traveling musicians.
Early’s songs seems to imply that the road he and his band mates are on has to stop at some point, and that’s the overall feeling on American Goldwing. Blitzen Trapper are still wandering through the forest with a backwoods wonder here, but the weirdness & excitement from their earlier records has been traded in for career focus, contemplation, cautious swagger and production proficiency. Not a bad thing, it’s worth the wandering with repeat listens.