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Greg Trooper

Incident on Willow Street – 2013 (52 Shakes)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Greg Trooper

Given the fact that it's long past time Greg Trooper got due recognition as the Americana treasure he is, "Incident on Willow Street" will hopefully be the album that brings him the acclamation he clearly deserves. While today's musical realms are littered with singer/songwriters sharing their personal narratives, Trooper has always stood apart from the competition, courtesy of songs that ring like timeless treasures even on a first hearing.

Trooper began his recording career in 1986 and has released a dozen albums in the interim, each LP serving as further confirmation of his remarkable prowess. Indeed, this latest effort, produced by longtime colleague Stewart Lerman and featuring the multi-instrumental contributions of consistent collaborator Larry Campbell, affirms his penchant for precision and detail.

It's manifest in his ability to combine imagery, melody, rich arrangements and ready rhymes for the sake of songs that strike immediate impressions. As a result, All the Way to Amsterdam, Mary of the Scots in Queens, Amelia and Living With You convey a rare blend of irony and emotion in equal measure. Regardless of the story lines - tales of displaced nomads, fractured affairs, hope and aspiration - the songs resonate with a sense of frailty borne from everyday observations. Inevitably, that's one of Trooper's greatest strengths - the ability to pierce the veil of everyday experiences and draw from them instantly affecting experiences.

Ultimately, Trooper's a troubadour, not a philosopher, and the best judge of his talents are the songs themselves and the ways in each they strike that bond with the listener. A rugged and resolute ballad like One Honest Man or a gentle lament with a bitter title such as This Shitty Deal bring to mind the steadfast conviction once seen in the work of Gordon Lightfoot or Joni Mitchell. Nevertheless, just like all his efforts before, "Incident on Willow Street" is the work of a man undeterred by lack of wider recognition yet still content to pursue his own passion.