Blitzen Trapper‘s Live in Portland is an ode to 60’s and 70’s arena rock that has managed to capture the same energy of classic bands like The Allman Brothers Band. The live nature of the album also contributes to the “tight but loose” feel that is so unique to bands from that era. Dueling lead guitars meeting between a solid base that is set by the rhythm paint the picture of classic southern rock that Blitzen Trapper executes excellently.
“Fletcher” kicks off the album with more than a passing resemblance to The Band criss-crossed with the elongated verses of early Dylan. The wah-wah slide guitar combined with the classic drum beat create a pleasant sound scape that is matched by the bands enthusiastic delivery. “Thirsty Man” is a nine minute epic the like of which have been few and far between in the last several decades. “Thirsty Man” also features a minimalistic synth appearing in the band’s line-up that manages to add to the ensemble without detracting from the period-specific appeal of the band.
“Shine On” is one of the stronger songs on the album, bringing in a female vocalist to act as a great counter to the male lead singer. “Shine On” uses a memorable guitar riff and uses it to great effect with the dynamics of the band. “Furr” (yes that’s the spelling) may best be described as Dylan sitting in with a session with Neil Young. At times it seems perhaps the singer is attempting to follow in Dylan’s footsteps too closely, with the style bordering on un self-aware parody. However the earnestness and overall quality of the performance makes up for this. “Valley of Death” is another great storytelling song combining the elemental ingredients of classic rock ballads and giving it a honest performance.
Blitzen Trapper is most certainly not re-inventing the wheel with Live in Portland however they are unabashedly thorough in their re-creation of a music style from decades gone by. You get nothing more and nothing less than a very solid classic rock revival band and sometimes that is exactly what you want.