By Travis Erwin
The title of Trigger Hippy’s latest album, Full Circle & Then Some is fitting in so many ways given the journey that the individual members have taken to find each other and form this collective. And, the title also is indicative of the band’s sound which often circles back to replicate sounds of other, memorable music which gives these tracks a jam band kind of vibe, that showcases the talent at hand without fully establishing a definitive essence for Trigger Hippy themselves. On this, the sophomore album for the band, it still feels at times as if the band is trying to establish precisely what they will become. That is not to say the insane amount of talent does not deliver a richness of sound and the strength of this collection is the obvious musicianship and the variation delivered both vocally and in the musical styles.
The album opens with Don’t Wanna Bring You Down, a track with a Southern Rock and Roll Funk vibe, complete with a lively groove and layered harmonies. A hard drum beat ushers in The Butcher’s Daughter which for me conjured thoughts of Dusty Springfield with its narrative soulful vocals.
Strung Out On The Pain is my favorite track among the dozen making up this album. Delivering the aura of old school country song from the late 80’s or early 90s this is a song that you can either two-step through the pain to, or kick back with whiskey in hand and reflect while your body goes numb.
The jam band spirit lands hard on Born To Be Blue. This eight plus minute track is long on ethereal intro mood setting, before the harmonies roll in like ocean waves some two minutes in. Overall, this one felt a bit like Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride and hit me as a song meant to fire one up and burn it down without ever having to change grooves. The end of the track settles into what I’d describe as a nice underwater conversation with a friendly whale.
The Door opened with a vocal style that brought to mind Harper Valley PTA before layering in a melody reminiscent at times of the recently departed, Kenny Roger’s Love Will Turn You Around and it was such blends of recognizable elements of music past, that kept me from ever completely settling into this album.
The title track, Full Circle and Then Some lands square in the middle of the cuts and as I stated in the opening paragraph is spot on in capturing the theme. The focus lyrically is on an old relationship and comes via a rocking soulful style that is as smooth and easy to listen to, and sing along with. A bluesy harmonica and low, lazy days of summer vocal style, clean and pure and direct delivers Dandelion.
Adding to the plethora of sounds, Goddamn Hurricane comes with a bluegrass vibe that feels a lot like a new track from the deeply missed band, The Gourds. That funky string arrangement vocal style made this my second favorite song among the twelve offerings. Long Lost Friend gives us tinkle keys and a honey sweet vocal groove. Fans of The Tractors and Confederate Railroad will enjoy One Of Them for its boogie beat and harmonious bounce.
Ironically, Low Down Country Song just might be the purest rock song on the album. That said it is still far more real, genuine, and thereby country, than damn near anything you will hear on Mainstream Country radio where everyone is hell-bent to be a Hip-Hop Pop star while dancing in bedazzled jeans on a jacked up truck’s tailgate as they sing about cliched dirt roads. Speaking of roads, Paving The Road closes out the album with an entirely different sound vocally.
Where exactly the road leads for Trigger Hippy remains to be seen, as the band has now given us two albums each with a slightly different lineup. There is promise of a bright future given the incredible talent present across this spectrum of styles and sounds. The harbingers of these talented musicians’ pasts lingers within these songs and while I appreciate the difficulty of launching new creative projects without bringing some elements of that with you, I found myself often comparing the tracks here to something that came before it. Talent and experience are great things to have, and as this band forms more of an identity tied solely to their existence, I expect Trigger Hippy to take aim with even more precision.
Travis Erwin is an author and freelance author. His work ranges from the comedic memoir, THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES to the emotional novel WAITING ON THE RIVER, and includes the Townes Van Zandt inspired TWISTED ROADS. You can contact Travis via Twitter @TravisErwin or find his music reviews across a number of outlets.