Like a 5-year-old watching the parade as the circus comes to town, I just sat there mesmerized as the latest from Triggers And Slips, The Stranger, passed by. Equal parts classic rock and country, front man and leader Morgan Snow has captured a musical style that transports you back in time if you lived through the 70’s. And makes you wish you did if you’re younger than that.
The opening song and title track are a pretty even blend of honky-tonk country shuffle and roots rock, with a spacey, prog rock intro. At the other end of the CD, the band covers Alice In Chain’s Rooster in all its ponderous glory. This version is no less depressing, but whereas the original was more of a narrative, Snow manages to capture the anguish of a dying man’s friend with his soulful voice and a bit of twang from acoustic guitar and banjo. I’m Not Your Baby adds some Baptist church organ to a Tennessee Whisky style number where Morgan spits out “ain’t no goddamned reason for you to leave” in disgust.
Other songs lay straighter in line with their inspiration. Blue Smoke is my favorite, with its tale of going to see the girlfriend in an old beater. Its simplicity is belied by the driving drums, keyboards, and guitar interplay, building to a climax that left me craving a cigarette. Drummer Eric Stoye punctuates the end with a Ringo-worthy “I’VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!” Old Friends lays a Waylon Jennings walking beat up side your head before it turns up the twang on vocals and a sweet fiddle part.
When it comes to solidly melding two, at the time, distinct styles into something new and better, The Stranger is in the league of No Depression or Sweetheart Of the Rodeo. It’s obviously not as ground-breaking, but I was gobsmacked when I first heard it, and I haven’t been able to get the CD out of my player since.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.