Review: Trampled By Turtles Ensure a Satisfying Sound on ‘Alpenglow’

(Thirty Tigers) ****

Videos by American Songwriter

Taking its name from the optical event that occurs when the sun casts a reddish glow across the mountains at dawn and dusk, the beautiful and beguiling album by Minnesota’s Trampled By Turtles—the band’s first new album since Life Is Good On The Open Road in 2018provides a seductive encounter that was worth waiting for. Benefitting from the production talents of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, it finds the band—a leading light within the contemporary bluegrass community— sharing a series of songs of a mostly mellow variety, while still allowing for a most emphatic impression as well.

That said, “Burlesque Desert Window” takes an upbeat approach that departs from the otherwise low-cast impression conveyed through the tempo and treatment accorded the album overall. So too, “All the Good Times Are Gone” puts the emphasis on banjo-driven riffs and a refrain that effectively underscores its otherwise forlorn vocal, one that decries an apparent end of any optimism due to living in a troubled and tumultuous world.

Happily, while the majority of the album’s offerings lean towards a similar sense of resignation—as reflected in the tender trappings that drift through “It’s So Hard To Hold On,” the heartfelt sentiment of “Starting Over,” the solemn “Central Hillside Blues,” and the solitary send-off given with “The Party’s Over”—there’s more than a glimmer of a positive perspective. “We’re Alright” suggests there’s hope on the horizon. “On the Highway” finds reassurance in the pursuit of a path forward. Both “A Lifetime To Find” and “Nothing But Blue Skies” come across as quietly compelling and upbeat in their intent.

Taken in tandem, Alpenglow allows for a soothing sojourn that begs repeated listens while fully reaping its rewards. The combination of mood and melody offers instant enticement, an assessment that likely won’t come as any surprise to those that consider themselves the band’s devotees. After nearly 20 years, Trampled By Turtles have effectively honed their craft, ensuring a satisfying sound that comes courtesy of their own remarkable realms.

Photo by Douglas Mason/Getty Images

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