Colorado string band Trout Steak Revival has never faltered when it comes to their musical progression, or their efforts to advance their melodic intents. With their fifth studio album, The Light We Bring, they live up to the title’s illuminating promise through a combination of rousing, rollicking anthems, quiet, contemplative rumination, and delicate yet decisive instrumental interplay. Having opted to self produce the new album themselves, they show that their camaraderie and cohesion are put to the same purpose, ensuring that this set of songs has the potential to reach the wider audience that they’re well entitled to serve.
The evidence is everywhere, from the celebratory set up of the album opener, Through the Pines, with its tuneful echoes of Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart, the emphatic Arrows in the Dark, and the teeming sense of triumph with Johnny’s Dirge. They use quieter designs with The Way It Moves and Only a Moment, a pair of reflective ballads that put the hushed vocals of fiddler Bevin Foley firmly at the fore. The ingenious arrangements, stirred slightly with occasional additives of brass, flute, violin, and cello, provide the music with supple twists and turns, expanding the stylistic terrain and adding a decided depth to the effort overall.
Songs such as The Heart Wants, Home and Loretta are thoroughly compelling, and yet they keep the musical balance in check. At the same time, they give the individual members of the band — Foley, Steve Doltz (guitar, mandolin), Casey Houlihan (bass), William Koster (dobro, guitar), and Travis McNamara’(banjo, piano, Wurlitzer) — ample opportunity to add instrumental input to the collective combination.
It’s easy to see that Trout Steak Revival is quickly blazing a name for themselves in today’s newgrass/grassicana realms thanks to a blend of several homegrown idioms. Care and sentiment are delicately stirred into this richly textured tapestry, allowing this music to make a quick connection and bring all its elements to the fore. Trout Steak Revival is clearly capable of creating a sense of celebration at a time when we need it the most.