ARTIST: TRAMPLED BY TURTLES
LABEL (YEAR): BANJODAD RECORDS (2010)
FOR FANS OF: OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, BOB DYLAN, THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, DR. RALPH STANLEY
Words by Sarah Meadow
Palomino is the fifth album by American bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles, and my favourite album to share with people that are completely unfamiliar with the contemporary bluegrass genre.
The album radiates a certain sadness and loneliness characteristic of a musical style that was born out of life in early Appalachia – life that was often long, difficult and lonely. This feeling of melancholy is more sophisticated and less obvious than that of bluegrass’ more popular cousin, country music. Palomino invokes a certain nostalgia for a world long gone, while remaining relatable with simplistically sad lyrics. This coupling of an old-world sound and relatable lyrics reminds us that modern technology cannot save us from loneliness and heartache. The line "All of us lonely, and it ain’t a sin to want something better than the shape you're in" is as relatable now as it would have been seventy years ago.
The intensity of the lead single and first song on the album, ‘Wait So Long’, is a shock to those only distantly familiar with bluegrass as a genre; the song is fast-paced and full of duelling stringed instruments – a contrast to the sad lyrics about complicated love and a broken down Winnebago in Winnemucca. ‘Bloodshot Eyes’ is completely the opposite in tempo, yet even sadder. While the lyrics in the song are "Lie on the earth, for better or worse, and let it swallow you whole", one could just as easily replace the word ‘it’ with ‘David Simonett’s voice’ because the song, in fact the whole album, has an enveloping quality, like being wrapped in fuzzy blanket, drinking hot tea on a rainy day.
Palomino is wonderful because it shows us the beauty in melancholy. Even the happiest of people can get a strange enjoyment out of allowing themselves to be sad. So go find a gloomy, rainy-streaked window and a mug of steaming tea, turn up the bluegrass and feel all the feels.