Singer/songwriters are a lot like fleas during the summer; they’re everywhere, but you don’t notice them until they bite you someplace sensitive.
Greg Trooper writes songs that can penetrate even the thickest skin and reach right down to your heart. Floating, Trooper’s first release for Sugar Hill, certainly isn’t his first album.
In ’86, Trooper released We Won’t Dance, and in ’92 his second, Everywhere. During this period Trooper toured extensively, playing clubs in the States and Europe. After settling down in Nashville, he released three more albums, Noises in the Hallway in 1996, >Popular Demons in 1998, and Straight Down Rain in 2001. Many top-flight artists, including Vince Gill, Steve Earle, and Billy Bragg, have covered Trooper’s tunes.
What sets Floating apart from most singer/songwriter albums is the power of the performances. Recorded in producer Phil Madeira’s small home studio, most of the tracks are semi-live, with a core ensemble of Trooper, Maderia on keyboards, Dave Jacques on bass, and Steve Hindalong on percussion. Afterward, drums and other instruments were added. Session musicians included Buddy Miller and Mike McAdam on electric guitars, Jake Armerding on mandolin and fiddle, and Jill Paquette, Claire Mullally, Buddy Miller, and Will Kimbrough on backing vocals. Trooper’s material is certainly worthy of these fine players’ attentions.
The title song typifies Trooper’s songwriting prowess. At first it seems a tome to sylvan aquatic pursuits, but by the third verse turns into a dark tale of guilt buried deep in the mists of the past. While many artists are mining the rich vein of music known as “Americana,” Trooper’s songs exemplify the individualistic pioneering spirit of the best of this new genre.
I’m a jaded old sod, and very rarely does an album from someone who I’ve never heard before grab me as hard as Floating. This is the real thing, the good stuff, something you grab hold of and keep close because it’s valuable. You need this album.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.