For years the tale was told by those who really put in the time to dig deep for the hidden gems of independent country and Americana of an outfit called Tylor and The Train Robbers from up Idaho way. Opening for bigger acts as they rolled through the area, and helping to fill out Festival lineups in the upper Rocky’s and Pacific Northwest, their quality songs, crack musicianship, tireless touring, and connection to the Braun Brothers of Idaho (Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars) helped put them on the national map to where they’re now regarded as much more than a local or regional band.
Their new album produced by Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly called Non-Typical Find is a profoundly literary, involved, erudite and wise work, stimulative of the gray matter while not losing sight that music is there to be enjoyed. Using sound and melody to deliver universal truths, poetic flourishes, riveting storylines, and quippy anecdotes is frontman and songwriter Tylor Ketchum’s stock-in-trade.
Great songwriters know how be both a reflector of our current times, and a beacon to our better angels. Tylor takes a keen awareness to the challenges this past year has presented, and instead of adding to the noise, attempts to offer a roadmap through it, or antidotes to it all by challenging the listener to broaden their perspectives, and reignite an audience with inner truths as opposed to sanctimonious tendencies.
Tylor accomplishes this by enveloping little juxtaposed mind benders and savvy wordplay into melody. You can hear this in the first song “Equation of Life,” and throughout much of this album. At other times the aim of a song is much more simple, like the appreciative love song “Jenny Lynn” about Tylor’s wife, or the title track which tells the story of one of Ketchum’s friends who happened upon some human remains while horn hunting.
Sometimes the morals of the songs might be a little too esoteric to catch, at least the first time through. Others may be difficult to unravel entirely. Though the songwriting is definitely superior and it’s one of the primary reasons you pay attention to Tylor and the Train Robbers in the first place, sometimes it tries a little too hard to be too soothsaying, like the opening line of the song “Worth The While” that states, “Today will always turn into yesterday, come tomorrow.” It may sound smart in context, but is a bit self-evident.
In certain moments, a bit more subtlety might be more suitable. But you do appreciate that Tylor Ketchum tries to hit a home run with every line and song he delivers, because more often than not, it connects. Meanwhile the music always works towards the desired mood, while staying mostly in the realm of songwriter country in style.
And if all of this sounds a little too heady for your tastes, be sure to check out the songs “Staring Down the North” and “Back the Other Way” where the Train Robbers and producer Cody Braun kick it up a notch like some Reckless Kelly alt-country, while the songwriting still impresses.
A family band of sorts, with Tylor’s brother Jason Bushman on bass, and Tyler’s father-in-law Johnny “Shoes” Pisano on guitar, Tylor and The Train Robbers give you a lot to unpack, and new things to discover with subsequent listens on this involved and enriching album.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
– – – – – – – – – –
Purchase from Tylor and the Train Robbers
Purchase from Amazon