For me, a certain style of bluegrass instantly brings back random memories of sunny, summer days outside listening to music. Many call that style front-range, or Colorado bluegrass. I suppose that all makes sense since, aside from John Hartford, much of my early bluegrass influence came from Hot Rize and New Grass Revival. That, in turn, led me to first hear Trout Steak Revival, a Denver band that’s just released their 5th album, The Light We Bring.
The record opens with a song, Through the Pines, I immediately associated with the sound I’d first heard from Trout Steak. That same new grass style carries through in The Way It Moves and Arrows In the Dark. The latter is an autobiographical wondering about the frequently unplanned events that make you who you are; and in bluegrass verse asks the Devo-like question, “how did we get here?”
All the band members write songs and sing lead. So it’s not surprising that, while the band certainly has their sound, you frequently get personal viewpoints as a centerpiece to a tune. Dobro and guitarist Will Koster shares his falling-in-love story on Loretta. Fiddler Bevin Foley relates the angst associated with being afraid of losing the memories of her recently departed father, John, in Only A Moment. A little further in the album, Johnny’s Dirge need no explanation with its wailing, crying fiddle intro. Home relates to the anticipation of finally getting back to your family after long weeks on the road.
Most bands have one or two people who write most of the songs and are clearly the “leader” of the band. Trout Steak Revival is somewhat unique in that they manage to incorporate everyone’s sound and talent into a whole greater than the sum of the parts. The Light We Bring is a stellar example of that, with a finally meshed collection of songs that celebrates the individual contributions of some fine bluegrass musicians.
About the author: I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.