Up front, let me say that I consider Greg Trafidlo a good and true friend, so it'd be a bit disingenuous of me to try to say that this is an objective review. Also, up front, I feel the need to mention that a lot more of my friends (and some really good musicians) are on this CD as well, including my wife, Kathy Acosta. (She was also the art designer.) So, again, this review -- by its very nature -- can't be completely bias-free.
All that said, I think this is (surprise!) Greg's best album yet
The CD starts with a bang with Greg and guest members of the "newgrass" Infamous Stringdusters blasting their way through "Stateline Getaway." And, before you can slap your thigh and yell "yee-haw!" you're suddenly in the midst of a southern-gospel inspired number that may or may not be a satire on the genre. I'll say this for Greg: He's never met a pun or a lyrical twist that he hasn't been willing to wrestle to the ground in order to squeeze everything out of it that can be squeezed. Most times he makes it work.
Greg is a superb storyteller and a talented wordsmith as well. Several of the songs on this CD have a LOT of words in them. Again, most of the time, Greg makes it work.
"Adios Idaho" is another favorite of mine. The “outro” of this one breaks my heart. You can feel Greg feeling it; and that's something that crops up again and again on this collection of tunes. On several, he wears his heart on his sleeve -- and it's extremely effective. That's what I like so much about this CD; regardless of whatever nitpicky criticisms I have to offer, they get overridden by Greg's strong commitment and heartfelt investment in each of the songs. When the musician obviously feels it, the listener is compelled to follow suit.
Personally, I'd like to hear more out of the Trafidlo/Marc Baskind songwriting team. Their two contributions, "Life On Hold" and "Let Me Break Even" come across to me as the strongest songs in the set.
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In Memory of ...
... Ralph Bravetail