Trigger 5 | Heartbreak and Regret (Living Traditions/JSP Records)

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In a traditional country manner of course, composed of two parts rockabilly to one part Patsy Cline with some post-modern irony thrown in as well as a dash of pop, a splash of doo-wop and a pinch of South of the Border. 
 
 
Apparently I have been living under a rock or in a cave because I wasn't even aware of the local band Trigger 5 until I got their debut album, Heartbreak and Regret, to review. The joke's on me because the Riverfront Times awarded them Best Country Band (Traditional) of 2009 on the strength of that same album, and I'm just getting around to reviewing it.
 
This is a band worth following because they really know how to rock. In a traditional country manner of course, composed of two parts rockabilly to one part Patsy Cline with some post-modern irony thrown in as well as a dash of pop, a splash of doo-wop and a pinch of South of the Border. So this album has cuts to please most tastes and it's all well done: my only regret is that as a collection of tunes in various styles, it demonstrates the band's versatility but doesn't convey much sense of the kind of individuality which separates the good from the great. But for a first album, it's definitely worth your time. 
 
Lyrics which contradict genre expectations are a strong point of Heartbreak and Regret (there are no writing credits on the liner notes, so I'm going to assume it's all original material). Consider the opening cut, “I fail at everything but you,” which has an twangy rockabilly sound recalling early Elvis Presley but lyrics which reverse the typical “she done me wrong” tale of hard luck in love: “You stand by your man even when I'm drunk/ You're at my side through thick and thin even when I'm acting like a chump/ I'm losing my hair, I ain't debonair and I'm stuck on permanent fool/ I fail at everything but you.”  To take another example, musically “Shut Your Mouth” is almost a dead ringer for Johnny Cash and June Carter's “Jackson” but with a more modern take on the theme of a relationship that just isn't working: “I got a frying pan with your name on it if you say one more thing. “
 
Sometimes the lyrics get a little too cute—what can be said about “I love my baby, she's a candy cigarette/She's so sweet she's going to make me cry?” However, the music is so good that I'm more than willing to overlook the occasional over-the-top lyric, which is perhaps the cost of taking a chance and doing something new. Lead vocals are handled by Amy James and Mike Heeter (who also plays acoustic guitar) while Alex Carlson supplies harmony vocals while playing lead guitar. Abe Grosswasser plays upright bass, with Matt Hughes on pedal steel, Matt King on fiddle (he's featured to especially good effect on “Who's That Man?”) and Dave Naeger on drums. The album was produced by Peter Dycus and Trigger 5 at Shine Studio (http://www.myspace.com/shinestudiostl) in St. Louis. 
 
Trigger 5 is one net-savvy band so you have several choices if you want to follow their exploits and sample some of their music. My first suggestion is their blog at http://trigger5.wordpress.com/ but they also have a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/trigger5  and a myspace page http://www.myspace.com/trigger5country.  And if that's not enough choices they also have some video clips on youtube including http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsM08bWKhvE. But there's nothing like live performance and Trigger 5 has a very active local schedule so if you like traditional country, you definitely should check them out. A | Sarah Boslaugh
 
RIYL:  Elvis at Sun; Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison; Rockabilly Riot. 
 
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