Homespun: The Trip Daddys, What Comes Natural

Daddy Time Records

Homespun: The Trip Daddys, <i>What Comes Natural</i>

It seems that as soon as the Trip Daddys became St. Louis' best rockabilly act (not long after the group's formation, nearly twenty years ago), the band's members set out to convince its listeners that they weren't just a rockabilly band. The threads of electric blues, hillbilly swing and Bakersfield country became fused in rockabilly's brief comet; Trip Daddys' guitarist, singer and head honcho Craig Straubinger simply wants to follow all of those threads, and a few more, with his band's ten-track offering. The second song, "As Long as It Rocks," makes the band's mission plain — Doc Martens or blue suede shoes are welcome on the dance floor, genre be damned. The band follows Straubinger's lead nicely: Dennis Williams mans the drum stool, as he has on the past two releases, with no-guff aplomb, while new addition Michael Graham fills out the trio on bass. The resonant thud of his upright is a move toward reverence, replacing the more punk-inflected tones that Tracey Morrissey imparted on recent albums.

As on 2011's The Life We Chose EP, the band mixes in some '50s and '60s chestnuts alongside its similarly pitched originals. The band pays tribute to two local titans, Chuck Berry and Ike Turner, by digging past some of the R&B legends' better-known songs. The twelve-bar blues of Berry's "Wee Wee Hours" gives Straubinger a chance to weave Berry's guitar style — those chunky staccato chords and buttery leads — into his own. A harder edge and some guest piano turn the Latin sway of Turner's "Cubano Jump" into a full-on rock song. The heavy tremolo on the Floyd Cramer instrumental "Last Date" makes a play in the moonlit terrain trod by the Santo & Johnny classic "Sleepwalk," though Straubinger adds grit to his slinky lines. In the hands of the Trip Daddys, Cramer's country-gospel tune gets turned into something to which Marty McFly's parents might have slow-danced. Those slightly more obscure tunes let the Daddys put their stamp on well-worn songs, but they falter a bit with the Pomus-Shuman hit "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame," following Elvis Presley's version a little too closely and safely; the rumbling take on Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" hits the mark, though, by coloring outside the lines.

—Christian Schaeffer

 
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