The menacing, gloomy backwoods that open Blitzen Trapper’s seventh album arrive without warning, a backdrop with the startling, dark allure of a horror film, crooked roads and deep, wild forest framing a narrative that just can’t end well.
It’s the details of the setting that brings “Feel The Chill” to life for singer/songwriter Eric Earley. Striding along Earley’s quickly spat lyrics are a guitar riff that steals equally from funk and twang, harmonica blasts like cries for help and a disembodied organ, floating in on the wind.
With each record, Earley’s writing grows more vivid, closer to the short-story-in-a-song realm of the Drive-By Truckers, Vic Chesnutt and Jason Molina at his most direct. That’s not to say Earley typically writes with so much darkness as the late, troubled Chesnutt or Molina, but that he creates slice-of-life reality as well as anybody. Earley’s characters are the distinctly rural or small-town set, and whether they’re wounded or triumphant, these characters are honest, lifelike and endlessly captivating.
VII is Blitzen Trapper’s strongest album to date, with years of musical experimentation having come together in the band’s own mad-scientist brand of cosmic Americana. At the front is Earley, writing from the heart and from sharply recalled memories, stories that are colorful, bizarre and built to thrill, like those murky woods of “Feel The Chill.” — Paste