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Greg Trooper

Live at the Rock Room – 2015 (52 Shakes)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Greg Trooper

It never ceases to amaze how an artist as skilled and credible as Greg Trooper continues to elude public attention. He can claim his fans of course, but considering the fact he has a dozen albums to his credit and nearly 30 years of making music behind him, that lack of wider awareness is not only baffling, but downright depressing. Not that he's avoided notoriety altogether; with songs recorded by Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and Vince Gill, and projects produced by Gary Tallent and Buddy Miller, he has made a mark among those in the inner sphere. Still, a listen to any of his offerings can confirm the fact that Trooper's not only a superb singer/songwriter, but also an artist deserving of greater acclaim

Trooper's latest effort, "Live at the Rock Room," further affirms that fact, thanks to a set of songs that draw from a compelling Americana template. Echoes of John Prine, John Stewart, Loudon Wainwright and Robert Earl Keen are evident throughout, but Trooper is too singular an artist to be relegated into anyone else's shadows. On songs such as "This I'd Do," "Broken Man," "They Call Me Hank," "We've Still Got Time" and "Everything's a Miracle," he explores the tenuous ties that bind everyday individuals to their circumstances and contemplates the means people use to cope with the challenges they are given. Bitterness and depression don't figure prominently in these situations; they're replaced instead by resilience, determination and desire.

Trooper's accompanists - bassist Jack Saunders and keyboardist and accordion player Chip Dolan - give the material a studio sheen, a sound so rich and full they belie the live setting. Recognition isn't required; these songs connect with an immediate impression. It's those same words and melodies that resonate long after the final notes fade away.