Diamonds and Gasoline
Sparkly and fueled with fiery promise, the Turnpike Troubadours' aptly titled new album, "Diamonds & Gasoline," is a roots-rock gem that shines with bright songwriting and masterful musicianship.
Compared to "Bossier City," the Tahlequah sixpiece's 2007 debut, "Diamonds" shows significantly improved cut, color and clarity, but the 12-song disc is far from princess-cut pop-country.
Opening the record with banjos and fiddles, "Every Girl," written by front man Evan Felker and Oklahoma City singer/songwriter John Fullbright, pays tribute to the rare female who's both down-to-earth and down for anything' the kind of girl who'd "never fail to cut a trail whenever times are bad," a woman who's both "a flighty good-time buddy in a corner of a bar," and a companion that'd "fight the devil for ya just for being who you are."
"Kansas City Southern" and "The Funeral" are fun, upbeat and twangy, as is album closer "Long Hot Summer Days," a John Hartford cover that plods with fiddled flourish and harmonica accents. But despite the rowdy, plucking fun of such stormers, the Troubadours ramble the strongest when traveling the loneliest roads.
Unsettled and self-questioning, Felker's seams are frayed throughout the self-titled track, an album standout. Acknowledging to a lost love that he's not the "brightest bird that ever flew," the chorus is raw and exposed, restless on a bed of picked strings and steel guitar. "I would buy for you a diamond or myself some gasoline / If I can't afford you darlin', then I can't afford to dream," Felker sings. "Is it time I should be moving, is it time I settled down? / Will I sit still or will I feel the wheels spinning 'round?"
Turnpike Troubadours will debut "Diamonds & Gasoline" for audiences 10 p.m. Saturday at a CD release show with K.C. Clifford at The Blue Note, 2408 N. Robinson. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit www.turnpiketroubadours.com."Joe Wertz