After a four-year-break from recording, Duluth, Minn. sextet Trampled By Turtles return with its eighth studio release of edgy bluegrass and Indie folk/rock. Lead singer Dave Simonett wrote all of the mostly dark themed lyrics with the lone instrumental that showcases the band's topflight musicianship, "Good Land," credited to bandmate Erik Berry.
The musicianship is best demonstrated on uptempo tunes such as the raging "Blood in the Water," which finds Simonett expressing alarm at an unspecified menace ("There's always trouble whenever you walk through the door") that clocks in at a brisk 1:47. The foreboding "Annihilate" transitions from a fast paced tale of impending doom ("And all our hometowns drown in breakdowns/Will you come back off the ledge?") to a soothing instrumental for the last minute of the song. The similarly gloomy "The Middle" and "Kelly's Bar" recall contemporaries such as the Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons.
TBT iis equally effective on mellow tracks such as the mournful ballad of lost love "I'm Not There Anymore" in which Simonett expresses pessimism at the prospect of a second chance ("I come back to start again/You pick me up and let me in/But I woke up in my own skin") delivered in a particularly stirring, lonesome vocal. "I Went To Hollywood" begins as a hopeful journey, but ends with predictable disillusionment ("Thought that I might meet a movie star/Ended up flat drunk in the Rainbow Bar"), while "We All Get Lonely" ultimately manages a relatively positive outlook amidst the sorrow ("We all get lonely/Yeah then we make it through").
With the brilliant compositions and pleasant vocals of Simonnet (guitar) backed nicely throughout by Berry (mandolin), Dave Carroll (banjo), Eamonn McLain (cello), Tim Saxhaug (bass) and Ryan Young (fiddle). "Life Is Good On The Open Road" marks a triumphant return from hiatus.