Review: Blitzen Trapper tell stories on ‘Wild & Reckless’

November 9, 2017

This cover image released by LKC Recordings shows "Wild and Reckless," a release by Blitzen Trapper. (LKC Recordings via AP)

Blitzen Trapper, “Wild & Reckless” (LKC Recordings)

Portland-based Blitzen Trapper’s “Wild & Reckless” is an album of straightforward tunes, many taken from an eponymous combination musical/rock opera the band staged in their hometown earlier this year.

The production dealt with issues like heroin, desperation and true love and those themes are maintained on the record.

Eric Earley, the group’s singer and songwriter, talks about having “stories upon stories” to tell and the narrative here is dominated by tragedy, tough luck, long series of bad decisions and even trailer park horror.

A former cop becomes a drug dealer after rejecting his sergeant’s “invitation” to go rouge (“Rebel”), a rape victim uses her mom’s gun to take revenge (“Joanna”) and a young couple steals a truck and a checkbook and all they manage to do is get “wasted, lost and lonely” (“Love Live On”).

When you’re working class, it seems you can only be down and out and the only place to go is a little further down.

Musically, the band feels right at home in the Americana neighborhood they fully moved into on their previous album — “All Across This Land” from 2015. The influences of Tom Petty, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan are easy to spot but there are also echoes of Stan Ridgway and J.J. Cale in some of the grooves.

There a few experimental touches, like the two-part “Forever” — one drenched in harmonies, the other an affecting farewell — or the weird sci-fi introduction to “No Man’s Land,” which sound the most like details of the stage production.

In the end, you can live your life wild and reckless but it catches up with you — and it’s not pretty when it does.

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