Tylor & The Train Robbers - Non-Typical Find
Firmly rooted in the classic and vintage sounds that dominated the output of many of the country-rock bands of the early 1970s, this Idaho-based outfit is as impressive as anything in the back catalogues of the Burritos, New Riders or Pure Prairie League. A fittingly great-sounding record, with the band magically tight and melodically assured as they play songs bathed in an evocative West Coast glow, while drawing on influences including outlaw country, classic singer-songwriters and vintage Americana. If the album were simply a collection of note-perfect genre pieces it would be fine, albeit somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But packed with memorable acoustic-led tunes penned by lead singer Tylor Ketchum, an expressive and attractive voice enhanced with sibling harmonies, and autobiographical stories that leave you staggered at the breadth of topics and profundity, this instantly stands out as the band’s most adventurous, fearless record of their career. Now, three albums in, they’ve become a force worth reckoning with, seasoned and spirited all at the same time.
Unlike their previous two self-produced albums, they’ve brought in outside producer Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly to bring a new vitality and freshness to the band’s finely tuned sound. In addition to Tylor (lead vocals, guitars), the band comprises his brothers Jason Bushman (bass, harmony vocals) and Tommy Bushman (drums, harmony vocals) with his father-in-law, Johnny ‘Shoes’ Pisano (guitars). In addition, Braun contributes fiddle and mandolin, alongside guests Brian Davies (pedal steel) and Bernie Reilly (keyboards, banjo, cello) with Tylor’s wife, Jennifer Pisano Ketchum on back-up and harmony vocals. They bring together authentic, heartstring-tugging songwriting, soaring harmonies and ardent guitar-playing and inspired musical arrangements.
Lyrically, Equation Of Life, exemplifies Tylor’s tendency to pen collages that evoke a palpable sense of uncertainty, while avoiding overtly theme-driven or easily interpretable commentary. Suffused with a melancholy nostalgia: Its soft, sparkly guitars and harmonies feel both heavy and weightless through a much-needed awakening. An empowering song simmering with so much cinematic intensity and emotion bubbling up through its glowing, dreamlike haze that it might just make you feel invincible, as you chase your own personal dreams of success. There’s the pull of searching for something better whilst being cushioned in the familiar surroundings of This Town. Like the proverbial boomerang, getting away is just a short-term escape. This is high-energy heartland country-rock with a catchy chorus that you’ll be humming along to on first listen as pedal steel trades licks with twanging electric guitars. There’s a soft delicacy to Jenny Lynn, a gorgeous love song to his then fiancé, whilst out on the road making music. The gentle ballad is carried by softly played mandolin, acoustic guitar, steel and fiddle to create a heartfelt message of love and devotion. These Eyes is a more upbeat tune, given a back-porch vibe as he envisages spending a lifetime with his soulmate. This one features some fine acoustic picking and vocal harmonies. There’s a bluegrass arrangement to the reflective Lemonade, with rambling banjo notes and some great steel guitar as the narrator looks back on his somewhat chequered past.
Tylor is really good at spinning yarns and dressing them in memorable melodies. Non-Typical Find is based on a true story related by a buddy, who uncovered a body on his land whilst out hunting. Tylor turns this into a compelling tale with his band mates cantering and trotting through a yarn that concludes with a chilling and earth-shattering discovery. The song dazzles with the songwriting genius of Tylor and the vibrant suppleness of his band of musical compadres. The group excels with other offerings as well, whether it’s the jaunty pacing of the optimistic Something Better, providing an unreserved lift to the spirit in these troublesome days, the exciting strumming of Staring Down The North or the beguiling balladry of the questioning Silver Lining. This is the kind of album that tells honest tales of love and life with poetic clarity, heightened by superb sibling harmonies and the mesh of electric and acoustic guitars, sweetened with the sounds of their guest musicians. Tylor and the Train Robbers have reached a point where there’s no need to even glance back as they are now ready to embrace the kind of wider exposure that they so richly deserve.