The new Tylor And The Train Robbers album gave me a perspective on something with this lockdown I hadn’t thought of. Ok, we’ve all been used to no gigs and livestreaming. Tylor and the lads did a lot of this on their Patreon, even if as I’ve said before that hasn’t been my thing, then good luck to them for trying.
But it was something else: ““It’s also the first time we’ve recorded an album of brand new songs that we had not already been playing live for months (or years) before recording,” notes Tylor in an interview I read, and it set me thinking. The itinerant road dogs being what they are (and TATTR strike me as that sort of group) they love to play new songs on a stage. So it must have been quite a change.
Indeed, “Non-Typical Find” is a different feeling record to their brilliant “Best Of The Worst Kind” from a couple of years back, slightly more rock n roll, slightly more textured, maybe, but one thing is the same: Tylor And The Train Robbers are wonderful.
Always a family band, mostly (and Tylor’s surname is Ketchum, Google Jack Ketchum and you’ll see why this matters) and that’s even more the case here. The bassist is still Tylor’s brother, but Johnny “Shoes” Pisano, the guitarist is now his father in law and the drummer is new. Another brother, Tommy, is now behind the kit.
The chemistry is there, clearly, and the wonderful songwriting is in place, but the gentle harmony of “Equation Of Life” are gorgeous. Dealing with the passing of time, but doing so in a fresh way, it underlines why this is band is special: “there ain’t nothing wrong with being proud of where you’re from, as long as you aren’t dragged down by the town that raised you” offers the first verse – and yet again, as so often on the debut, they find a way to articulate deep themes.
“This Town” is very much the type of thing that you imagined Blackberry Smoke had a trademark on, while the pleasing thing about “Worth The While” is that you can picture them all sitting on their front porch, creating these things.
In actuality, they worked again with Reckless Kelly’s Cody Braun and he understands the band brilliantly. Listen to “Jenny Lynn” and the likes and you’ll hear something that sounds gloriously organic, as if it was created live.
In my review of the last album I wrote: “The best stories are the darkest, the bleakest, but shot through with a stoic humour.” And that’s true yet again here. The title track is quite the tale. The violins add a honky-tonk feel, but the words are worthy of Townes Van Zandt.
“Lemonade” is more proof that this is a band that could be anything. There’s some Cash here, as the narrator writes from his cell, and the simply beautiful, evocative guitars of “Something Better” make the whole thing sound desolate and barren.
By and large, this is a guitar band. You can imagine them in your local folk club playing beaten acoustics, but that’s not really the full story. Instead, the blues tinges of “Staring At The North” take this to a different place. “You can find all your troubles on the internet” sings Ketchum, “I guess what you search for is what you get”, and its arguably the best thing here.
There’s some Latin stuff on “Those Eyes” that makes you think of Calexico, and an example of the depth here – this is not a short album by any manner of means – is the slow building “Back The Other Way” and if “Silver Lining” ends the record in an upbeat and gentle, quiet type of way, navigating the post-Covid world, then the real key, it seems to me, comes in “…..North”. “I don’t know what I am talking about,” sings Tylor, “I’ll keep singing, maybe figure it out”. Such is the feeling of community and inclusion that is created on “Non-Typical Find” you just want to work it out together.
A real gem of a band, one that is rooted in their area, yes, but just waiting to be discovered worldwide.