Music Reviews

Tractor Kings

Gone to Heaven

Mud / Parasol

Gone to Heaven’s title track kicks off the album on a very Byrds-ian note. Finger picked guitars chime behind singer Jacob Fleischli’s Roger McGuinn-esque vocal phrasing. It’s quite possibly the most derivative song on the album, but it’s also the catchiest. The rest of the album is country music steeped in, at times, such a kitschy amount of twee that it wouldn’t be surprising to see the band to perform decked out in rhinestones.

The rough edges are hewn off leaving, at times, unsettlingly chipper music to support very angst-ridden lyrics. Take “Buried in the Sky” for example, with its loungey keyboards, pitter-patter drums, and playful bass one would expect a song about sunshine and lollipops. The song, however, opens with the following verse, sung with Bob Dylan elasticity: “Ya know I’d love to live a life / but I hate to live this life / and ya know I’m so scared to die.” Ouch indeed. It takes a few listens to properly reconcile the disparity between the lyrical downcast and musical upswing.

Ultimately, it’s a losing battle for the optimistic music because by the time the closing tracks “Goodnight” and “My Old Ways Are Gone” roll around the instrumentation rings with the same somber tone as the lyrics. What you end up with is a perfect soundtrack to driving the old stretches of Route 66 and seeing the rundown hotels and restaurants. They’re still gaudy and out of place on the desolate lands, but farther out west they’re wasting away much quicker. There’s a natural tendency for forced modernity to revert back to the rustic, much like the songs on this album.

Parasol Records:

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