From Entertainment Weekly:
Blitzen Trapper bandleader Eric Earley has long been a man of many influences. Before the group’s seventh studio full-length he declaredthe main gravitational pulls on the collection were Waylon Jennings and Wu-Tang Clan — which, oddly enough, flowed into one sonic path smoother than one might think. VII was surreal in its genre-bending as well as its blending, mixing rap-style lyrical flows with Southwestern accents and danceable melodies.
For their newest effort, Earley says he started by revisiting more familiar territory. “I just went back to the bands that influenced me in high school, like the Replacements and R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo.” On All Across This Land, which EW is premiering in full below, Earley returns to Americana-inflected rock and psychedelic whims, the first taste of which fans would have heard on Furr (2008) and most recently onAmerican Goldwing (2011). But All Across This Land is bigger, synthier, warmer. Its guitars are brighter, more soaked in reverb.
The question it asks, through various mouthpieces, is also bigger. “Where have I been?” Or rather, “Why have I been there?” All Across This Land’s first nine tracks look back to Earley and his high school friends (“Nights Were Made For Love”), a young crush that never grew into more (“Mystery and Wonder”), a relationship hanging on by a single, gasping breath (“Love Grow Cold”), and Earley’s father (“Cadillac Road”).
“Cadillac Road”, in particular, anchors the record in retrospection. “I was thinking about my own father. He’s been gone for many years, but I wondered if I ever really knew him,” Earley says of the tune with the tale of a man who worked for a phone company in a dying town, and who stayed behind even after the the down had died — the circumstances of which Earley says were very real.
Which leads to the final track, which finally looks forward. On “Across The River” Earley imagines crossing “the river that runs between the sun and the darkness of our lives” to speak to his father. It’s not a new concept, of course. The River Styx has been the way out, or over, since first appearing in Greek Mythology. But Earley makes it immediate and affecting, weaving a filigree portrait of longing for those long gone that only those who’ve wondered what they have to do to see someone again will understand.
If it feels as real as the other stories that’s because, in some ways it is. “Who’s to say meditating on the thought, ‘What if I was to just cross over? Just to talk to my dad?’ isn’t real?” Earley asks why way of explanation. Certainly, not us.
All Across This Land is streaming below and releases next week, October 2nd via Vagrant Records.