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Greg Trooper

STRAIGHT DOWN RAIN (Eminent) • Greg Trooper

I enjoyed the living hell outta this record. Trooper is a major dude, make no mistake.

So many sympathetic elements are required to make a record this listenable. Greg's singing voice has an absolutely classic and beautiful timbre, along with being very believable and human. His writing voice is extremely consistent, and has that singularity that makes an artist identifiable, and in this case, great. A number of superlative songs, but the knockouts for me were "Real Like That" (with Jon Sieger) and "You Love Your Broken Heart," tunes that make any good songwriter say I shoulda wrote that.

Equally important is the stellar and adventurous production Phil Madeira did here, it's a wickedly good job. Phil appears on many records as one of the ace studio Hammond B-3 guys in Nashville, and also in the Buddy and Julie Miller live band. (Julie's voice on "Real Like That" is characteristically alluring.) Phil also plays excellent guitars on this record: electric, mando, baritone, lap steel, and also accordion. Wow. He's got a lot of great producing ahead of him.

Trooper wrote more than half the dozen songs alone, and collaborated with Jon Sieger on three, and with Bill Lloyd and Pamela Brown Hayes on one apiece, all acclaimed songwriters. There's a timeless and understated greatness to his compositions that bears close scrutiny by all who want to write or hear a song that matters.

Dave Jacques plays beautiful bass, that's no surprise. Kenneth Blevins on drums, always a pleasure. Fine percussion by Steve Hindalong throughout. Maura O'Connell and Claire Mullaly add essential vocals, as does Dave Perkins, who added a mighty cool guitar solo on "Doghouse." Steve Fishell on steel, Fats Kaplan on fiddle, that's all top shelf stuff. Even the engineer Jordan Richter adds backing vocals and ebo guitar, that's why they call it Music City.

Make some room in the T's in your CD collection for Straight Down Rain. Steve Earle and Vince Gill don't need to cut other people's songs, but they've both cut Greg Trooper songs. He should be in every home where fine songs and great singing are featured.
• FG

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