Li'l Cap'n Travis

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

Li'l Cap'n Travis

... In All Their Splendor (Glurp) Rave all you want about Li'l Cap'n Travis' Southwestern splendor, embodied by the coastal motel art of the Austin sextet's third album and the sunset steel and Calexico-like marimbas of streaming opener "Steady as She Goes." Drawling vocals, strummy rhythms, and shambling, kaleidoscope live shows; LCT is shaggy-dog pop – big, bounding, always licking your face. They're also maximum density, where guitars, steel guitar, glockenspiel, piano, organs, strings, and all manner of crystalline musical embellishment – overseen by Grand Champeen's Michael Crow – clamors late-Sixties lysergic, just ahead of combustion. Theirs is the enchanted forest woodsmanship of Beachwood Sparks thumbing south to the Gulf. The sonic upgrade of ... In All Their Splendor alone, compared to 1999's eponymous debut and 2001's Lonesome and Losin', is the difference between two tin cans connected by string, and DSL. The high quotient of LCT classics on Lonesome and Losin' is tough competition, but the group's guitarist/vocalists, Christian Braafladt and Matt Kinsey, contribute five numbers each, and there's not a bum song among them. The latter's "Natural Fool," long a live staple, is captured in all its glory, while Braafladt's majestic "Throw off the Reins" is the Crazy Horse centerpiece of Splendor. Bassist Jeff Johnston's ukulele heartbreak, "Let Her Dance," which slides into the clambake kick of Kinsey's "With Caroline," waltzes toe-to-toe with pedal steelist Gary Newcomb's harp-kissed and bashful "Dapple Gray." Even a brief bonus, some Magical Mystery Tour outtake, makes you hunger for whatever scraps of splendor LCT leaves behind. Woof woof!

****

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