Album Review: Trout Steak Revival – Brighter Every Day
From first glance at the Trout Steak Revival submission, I couldn’t help but chuckle. I mean, it’s just a funny name. And bands with funny names can be a grab bag; sometimes they’re gimmicky, but sometimes they’re great. Trout Steak Revival are a highly successful and talented bluegrass band. If it’s any indication of how good they are, Chris Pandolfi of the Infamous Stringdusters endorsed the album. Here are some of the reasons why they’re so good.
You can feel from the opening strums of “Union Pacific” that these are talented musicians. They keep the harmonies and the strings tight on each track. The lead vocal on tracks like “Oklahoma” show a nice even baritone. There aren’t the kinds of unnecessary reaches that so many bluegrass bands try to do; instead each band member stays within the proper range. The fiddle, mandolin, and banjo all take turns passing the solos nicely. The songs just feel natural, which makes for easy listening.
The title track “Brighter Every Day” is a fantastic little song. It starts soft with a sense of a crescendo. The lead vocal comes in with an almost bluesy sincerity. But the optimism of the lyrics and the music proclaim that “the sun is shining brighter every day.” It’s a great concept and the harmonies are particularly powerful on this one. The standup bass shows off just a little bit on this one, but we’re definitely not complaining.
“Ours for the Taking” has a gospel familiarity to me for some reason. It’s an easy swing and gets the toes tapping. “Wind on the Mountain” has some of the best picking on the entire album. It really reels quickly, making for a pleasing experience for listeners. It even is the type of song that makes you wonder about the complex situation that must have inspired it. “Days of Gray” could darn near be a theme song for life here in northeast Ohio, but that aside, it’s a wonderful song that encourages us to cope with the rhythms of life.
In great bluegrass tradition, “Sierra Nevada” pays homage to a major geographical element to the West, much like folks sing about the Appalachians where the genre was born. The string work on “Sierra Nevada” definitely harkens to those roots. The following track “Pie” made me hungry, but more than that, it put me in a better mood. It’s a sweet song if you listen closely. No spoilers. The final track is “Colorado River,” a smooth track that reminds me of Nickel Creek. It’s a nice way to conclude an overall enjoyable bluegrass album. It also provides a sweet indication that the band might be leaning in a new grass direction – maybe for the next album?
In any event, this is a delightful album for bluegrass fans. You can put it on while you’re hosting a backyard barbeque or you could really sit and focus on the meaning of each song. Either way, there are feelings of nostalgia, a sense of love, and a heartfelt thankfulness for the natural world that seeps throughout the album.