Three albums on, the Turnpike Troubadours have evolved from
the hard-bitten road warriors their handle implies into a band of musical
journeymen of a distinctly blue-collar variety. Rousing fiddle-fueled hoedowns
find their place alongside tears-in-the beer balladry and the kind of weary
laments that their cowboy hat-wearing compatriots from Nashville tend to tout as
part of their stock and trade.
The honky-tonk “Call a Spade a Spade” and the rousing
barroom send-up “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” aside, the Turnpike
Troubadours eschew a traditional template while still sticking to the basics.
Consequently, both the snappy banjo-plucked “Gin Smoke & Lies” and the
bitter ballad “Wrecked” come across as equally weathered and tarnished.
Likewise, the band’s dogged drive and determination never drifts far from the
surface, whether it’s the tongue-in-cheek courtship song “Good Lordy Lorrie” or
the feisty tenacity summoned through “Blue Star.” Ultimately, it’s a populist
approach that stirs their sentiments and finds them building their brand with
the masses. Happily then, Goodbye Normal
Street finds them heading in the right direction.
“Wrecked,” “Gin Smoke & Lies,” “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” LEE