Turnpike Troubadours are the latest band from Oklahoma to make significant waves in Texas/Red Dirt Music. Their second and most recent album, Diamonds and Gasoline, is a testament to the fact that the great Red Dirt lineage of the greater Stillwater area is safe in the musical hands of Evan Felker and company. The Troubadours convey a rootsy country throwback sound that evokes bands such as Old Crow Medicine Show and Whiskeytown while also sounding vitally contemporary.
“Every Girl” kicks off the album with harmony vocals attacking your eardrums from different angles and a rolling banjo lick before kicking into a serious groove and delivering lyrics about the girl from San Antone who carries bits of personality that remind the protagonist of every girl he’s ever known. “7&7” is an uptempo tune with a killer chorus that Felker uses to reflect the regret of being “the boy your mama warned you about,” and losing the love of his life due to his reckless ways.
The production on this album is punchy, yet it is the strong songwriting that stands out. The songs are full of heartland passion paired with gritty Chris Knight type realism. “1968” and “Whole Damn Town” take this type of hardcore storytelling to the next level. However, it is “The Funeral” with its vividly painted picture of a son that has chased wanderlust to return home for his father’s funeral and finds nothing but scorn with lines like “ain’t nothing like your family make you feel so damn alone,” that make you realize how legitimately great this album is.
The album closes with two of the best tracks in the collection, the soaked in Townes Van Zandt influence of “Evangeline”; and their fantastic cover of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Day” which while specifically referencing the Illinois River could just as easily be applied to a good time on the Guadalupe or Frio. Diamonds and Gasoline is a spectacular collection of songs that contain a salt of the earthiness that signifies the Turnpike Troubadours are going to be around for a while, and that’s a good thing.
-Brad Beheler (reprinted from MusicFest magazine)