TURNPIKE TROUBADOURS - A LONG WAY FROM YOUR HEART Vinyl LP
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A decade removed from their debut, the Turnpike Troubadours are the definition of a working band. Every year they tour, with records arriving at regular intervals, each new set offering a refinement of the weathered, rangy Americana they unveiled on 2007's Bossier City. A Long Way from Your Heart, the band's fifth album, doesn't depart from this tradition, feeling like a familiar favorite upon its first spin. Such coziness is deceptive, as A Long Way from Your Heart is hardly a retread of its 2015 predecessor, or any of the other Turnpike Troubadours albums for that matter. For one, it's a lighter affair than the group's eponymous 2015 LP. It's fleet on its feet and bright in its outlook, letting humor sit alongside the heartbreak, pairing the easy-rolling "Old Time Feeling (Like Before)" and dusty twang of "Pipe Bomb Dream," finding space for loose-limbed blues and galloping bluegrass. The Turnpike Troubadours navigate these shifts in style and tone with such grace, it takes some close listening to detect how pedal steel guitarist Hank Early adds depth and dimension to the band's expansive Americana. As impressive as the band is, the plainspoken songs of Evan Felker are what truly distinguish A Long Way from Your Heart. Felker constructs sturdy melodies and writes unfussy yet evocative words to match. He's a storyteller with poetic flair, alternating between dry wit and clear-eyed sentiment, sometimes marrying the two traits in one song. These are complex songs worthy of a band as rich as the Turnpike Troubadours, and both Felker and his group are at a peak on A Long Way from Your Heart. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine