Greg Trooper

Acts Playing South by Southwest

SXSW Records

Greg Trooper

Straight Down Rain (Eminent)

One of the best-kept secrets in Nashville, Greg Trooper has had his songs covered by the likes of Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Robert Earl Keen, Maura O'Connell, and Billy Bragg . As a solo artist, he's released a couple of real gems, yet he's never found an audience beyond a small cult of rabid fans. Straight Down Rain is his debut for Eminent, the label founded by Emmylou Harris. It's another winning collection that showcases Trooper's prodigious talent for stick-to-your-ribs melodies with lyrics that probe the heart and soul of a man leading a complicated, confusing life but refusing to give up hope. As Trooper sings on the Springsteen-like anthem "Sometimes It Takes a Hurricane," "sometimes it takes no more than a drop of water to fill the glass that holds your hopes and dreams -- sometimes it takes a hurricane." Straight Down Rain finds Trooper using a different sound palette than in the past; the expansion of sounds, electronic beats, and keyboards from producer Phil Maderia lends some songs a modern air. Yet Trooper remains true to his country roots on songs such as "Real Like This," a two-stepping duet of sorts with Julie Miller, and "Trampoline," a bouncy number co-written with Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd, both of which twang in all the right places. He closes with a charming Celtic-inspired ballad, "I'm Dreaming," that sends the listener floating among the clouds. It's a crafty way to show off Trooper's more than capable songwriting talent. (Saturday, March 17, the Hideout, 11pm)

****

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