After throwing together indie-rock melodies, unhinged country jams, and folky barn-stompers on 2007’s breakout, Wild Mountain Nation, Blitzen Trapper spent its next two records sharpening its focus. Furr jettisoned pop songs for a bipolar collection of boogie power-rock and Americana-inspired ballads, while Destroyer Of The Void scaled back the rough guitarwork for proggy, mellow anthems of the western wilderness. For American Goldwing, Blitzen Trapper revisits the other half of Furr, delivering a masterful homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, and other pillars of ’70s Southern rock. It’s straightforward, no-frills nostalgia, but American Goldwing nonetheless shows the band’s versatility.
Stepping out of the haunted backwoods of Destroyer, Goldwing is made for wide skies and endless highway. It’s a blood-rush of thick riffs, smeared slide guitars, pavement-pounding drums, fist-pumping chants, and swirls of piano, banjo, and harmonica. The group’s quirkier side might be missed at times, but the infectious energy on tracks such as “Fletcher” is hard to deny. “Love The Way You Walk Away” is another winner, an easygoing tune of booze and regret that’s more charming than sorrowful. The slower numbers, such as the knee-tapping “My Home Town,” never lose the overall momentum, making the album a lively, fun ride from start to finish. American Goldwing is a journey into the unknown, and like the drifters Blitzen Trapper sings about, there’s no telling where the group is headed next.