Greg Trooper – Make It Through This World
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One of the many Nashville-based singer-songwriters whose respected stature among critics and fellow artists stands in stark contrast to his rather meager commercial acclaim, Greg Trooper has quietly built a catalog of superbly crafted albums. On his second release for the Sugar Hill label (his eighth overall), Trooper teams up with legendary songwriter/producer Dan Penn for a collaboration so natural, it's a wonder it hadn't happened before.
Trooper's music already combines strains of R&B, country, and folk, which Penn acknowledges by infusing a subtle yet palpable tenderness into these songs. Sung in a honeyed, gritty voice that combines the tough, yet resigned style of Guy Clark and longtime friend Buddy Miller with the vulnerability of Paul Simon, Trooper's songs straddle the dusty roads between Austin soul and Nashville twang--both of which cities he has called home. The lyrically provocative "When I Think of You My Friends" is one example of a typical Trooper setup where the protagonists are "out of luck, out of work, never out of dreams." Yet he won't settle for weepy sentimentality in either his words or stirring melodies. These twelve tracks flaunt the soul in the singer's emotionally rousing tunes and show him as one of the most talented contemporary acts on the roots scene. Credit also goes to Penn, whose warm, sympathetic production allows Trooper the room he needs to shine. --Hal Horowitz
Greg Trooper has an amazing track record. He just keeps putting out good records. Records you find yourself humming along to. His patented brand of country-tinged shuffles mixed with a sense of melodic folk is as comfortable as a cuddling up with a great book. His artistic pedigree includes stints in New York, Austin, and Nashville, and it's clear his effortlessness with a song is a direct result from quality experiences in all of those great music scenes.
1. Dream Away the Blues - 4:06 2. This I'd Do - 3:50 3. Green Eyed Girl - 3:16 4. Make It Through This World - 4:17 5. Don't Let It Go to Waste - 3:03 6. Loneyl Pair - 3:33 7. I Love It When She Lies - 3:32 8. No Higher Ground - 2:49 9. Sad, Sad Girl - 3:06 10. When I Think of You My Friends - 3:10 11. Close to the Tracks - 3:20 12. Lonesome for You Now - 4:18
Greg Trooper (guitars, vocals) , Kenneth Blevins (drums, percussion) , David Jacques (bass) , Kevin McKendree (piano, Hammond B3-organ, keyboards) , Bill Kirchen (guitars) , Steve Fishell (dobra, lap steel guitar) , Pat McLaughlin harmony vocals) , Dan Penn (oohs on 6) , Trixie (dog barks)
1. AllMusic - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Singer/songwriters are not known for their cheeriness, so it's kind of nice when Greg Trooper opens Make It Through This World with the gospel-tinged "Dream Away the Blues." Yes, the singer/narrator may be a bit down now, but he confidently asserts that one day he'll dream away the blues. He follows this with a mellow R&B number, "This I'd Do," a song that finds the singer promising to do whatever it takes to please his love interest, while a serene "Green Eyed Girl" playfully finds the singer wishing for the world only to admit he'd be satisfied if he had his girl sitting by his side. Trooper's relaxed vocals seem at home among the acoustic and electric guitars that make up the album's tasteful arrangements. On songs like the title track and "Don't Let It Go to Waste," he even melds his folkie heart to country music, delivering each piece with a quiet confidence. There's also an evocative ode to the great Galveston flood, "No Higher Ground," that carries a positive cadence despite its tragic subject matter. The overall mood of Make It Through This World is upbeat, and it works so well because Trooper's performance seems to in tune with the music and material. Singer/songwriters, it appears, can have good days just like everybody else.