This is the third album from Tylor & The Train Robbers. The Boise, Idaho-based band takes its name from the infamous "Black Jack" Ketchum, member of the famed Hole-In-The-Wall Gang. History informs us that Ketchum was of the same ilk as the famous wild bunch led by Butch Cassidy. "Black Jack" is a distant relative of band leader, lead vocalist and songwriter Tylor Ketchum.
The quartet consists of Tylor (vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica), his brother Jason Bushman (bass), Johnny "Shoes" Pisano (lead guitar) and the newest member, brother drummer Tommy Bushman. The brothers have been playing together since childhood, with the older, more experienced Pisano, now Tylor's father-in-law, making it an even tighter family band than it has been.
Pisano's daughter and Ketchum's wife, Jennifer Pisano Ketchum, sings, co-wrote "Something Better," and is the subject of "Jenny Lynn" and "These Eyes." This is the first time the band worked with an outside producer, tapping Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly. He and the band recruited multi-instrumentalist Bernie Reilly, pedal steel player Brian Davies, and Braun added mostly fiddle and mandolin.
The music breathes easily as the opener "Equation of Life" highlights three-part brother harmony with the last chorus sung a capella. The rollicking "This Town" speaks to a love-hate relationship with the place while "Worth the While" retreats to quiet, acoustic strumming, tinkling piano and sweeping pedal steel for a discourse on pandemic inspired resilience. "Jenny Lynn" features just Ketchum on acoustic guitar and Braun's weeping fiddle in this yearning love song. The epic title track, rendered in classic fiddle driven country style, is based on a true story where a buddy of Ketchum's unexpectedly discovered human remains while hunting. It reveals Ketchum's eye for detail and strong gift for the narrative.
"Lemonade" is buoyed by a banjo, giving it a bluegrass feel, and the mandolin imbued "These Eyes" has the relaxed feel of a picking session with Jennifer adding to the harmonies. "Staring Down the North" is one of the few burners here as this band can rock too. The acoustic, Celtic sounding "Silver Line" closes with pandemic pondered optimism.
The name may imply rollicking country rock, but instead we mostly find many well-crafted ballad-like songs. This is storytelling time set to a bed of enjoyable, rootsy music.