Black Music Matters Festival

Greg Trooper

Straight Down Rain – 2001 (Eminent)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

CDs by Greg Trooper

Always refined and tasteful, Greg Trooper is kicking things up a notch on his latest album. Maybe he has been listening to Emmylou Harris' recent work. Perhaps Trooper latched on to the country/trip-hop mixture espoused by Greg Garing a few years ago. Whatever it is, this contains selections that mix inventive ambient sounds with Trooper's usual lyrical smartness. Check out the bass-heavy stomp of "Doghouse," a rueful tune that galumphs about as the narrator tries to work his way out of a jam, only to discover he's stuck: "your gravy train's run out of grease, the love we had is now deceased...I'm in the doghouse now." Organ, trumpet and cello are laced throughout.

"Staring Down The Night" sounds like a steady fall down a ladder, and uses B3 and cello to make the point. Even "Trampoline," a relatively straightforward ode to a woman who is "Forever bouncing/bouncing off the walls" employs a little musical spring to make its point. This music isn't overproduced by any means; Trooper is simply using his instruments to add a little punctuation. And in doing so, he uncorks a very catchy piece of work. Rootsy and fresh at the same time.