Album Review – Charlie Sutton’s “Trout Takes”

What is it about the act of fishing that just makes everything else seem right with the world? It’s the leaving of worries behind. It’s the communion with nature. It’s the thrill of the bite, the bend in the rod, the fight with the reel, and landing the big one. It’s the mystery of the world beneath the water. There’s little that an afternoon fishing won’t cure.

Charlie Sutton takes this simple and universal notion, and puts it into song in this delightfully understated and unpretentious album of country blues music that may not confer as much joy and comfort as a day out on the boat, or along the shore, or wading in the stream, but it’s the next best thing. Called Trout Takes, it’s something that Taj Mahal or Canned Heat would probably approve of, and you might too.

So much of music is weighted down these days with ulterior purposes or expressions—or even worse, overt ones. Most everyone is angling to make their big mark, fit into a clique, get rich quick, or to make some sort of grand statement. But music at its heart is just supposed to be a simple pleasure. Just like fishing. Take a timeless melody, and little bit of rhythm, and match it with a simple story. It’s like a hook, a line, and some bait. That’s all you need.

A concept record never went down so easy. Then again, how many concept records are there about fishing? It’s plainspoken nature is what makes it prophetic. The album’s simplicity is what renders it erudite. It says so much with so little. It’s everything that Charlie Sutton doesn’t say that makes Trout Takes so enriching … well that, and the fingerpicking, along with his knack for finding just the right mood with the timbre of his voice for the story to be told.

Charlie Sutton shows great restraint bringing these eight original songs to life, only adding as much accompaniment as necessary, while exploring the various aspects of the joy and mysticism of fishing, including from the fish’s perspective. He takes a subject that may seem mundane to some, and makes it magical, whether it’s getting free of the daily grind to wet a line, perusing a general store’s fishing wares for what might work best on the next cast, or chasing that always-elusive ‘big one,’ or as Charlie calls it in one of the albums standout songs, the “Chrome Ghost.”

But in some respects, Trout Takes really isn’t about fishing at all. It’s just about life, and conveying the always-important reminder to slow down, to make time to do the things you love to do, to see the inherent beauty in all the world around you, and to remember that time is never wasted when it comes to making memories.

From Boise, Idaho where they know a thing or two about trout, and fishing, don’t expect Charlie Sutton and Trout Takes to floor you. That’s not the point. Listening to this album is like taking a deep breath, letting the stress flow out with the exhalation, and putting everything back into the proper perspective. But really, it’s also just about fishing.


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