The Rose City Band / Earth Trip / 2021
With their 2020 album, Summerlong, the Rose City Band gave us the near perfect vehicle to escape. The music serving as the guildpost for our imaginations and limitations. And the trip was real. Like a musical Shaman, Ripley Johnson‘s psychedelic head-music both appreciated the past and navigated the new frontiers of our pandemic dystopia. There was hope in those trippy vibes and voodoo-smoke lyrics. The embers of Summerlong burnt deep into my head throughout the most difficult and unforgiving year. And Summerlong was the antidote for that forever lost summer of 2020. Providing the hope of creativity and art as we watched the days disintegrate before us.
On the surface Earth Trip is full of the same cosmic country-rock that has always made the Rose City Band‘s music so special and personal. But 2021 is looking very, very different then the pre-pandemic blue sky of Summerlong. The season’s certainly have changed with the cool realism of fall and winter closing in on us. The album’s first track, Silver Roses is an immediate indication that this journey will focus more within rather then the starry night of our dreams(cape). The familar earthbound melody of Knocking on Heaven’s Door is reimposed within the song’s structure. The lyric is delicate and personal. Filled with the details of (re)discovering the struggles and pleasures of the everyday life. More importantly, understanding that the answer to this world’s problems are not in the vast loneliness of the cosmos but closer to home.
The theme of interconnectiveness is central and reenforced often throughout this rich and textured album. Most notably, the brilliant pedal-steel of guest player, Barry Walker. His sparkling fills weaving each track into the next. Creating a conceptual whole of interlocking music and songs with Ripley Johnson‘s understated (and under appreciate) vocal style. The two musicans fusing their talents together into a complex synthesis of sound. The music leaving behind any traditional definitions of rock, country, psychedelic or spiritual.
Earth Trip still has elements of that early moring buzz after an evening under the stars. Days filled with the simple satisfactions of fixing a broken door. But always with elements of a dark earthiness lingering in the shadow. A weariness that has perhaps always been with us. The music of the Rose City Band can be decepitive at first glance. The sparse arrangements masking the layers of shading just under the surface. You may need to look a bit closer on Earth Trip. The music is full of secrets and shy beauty. The lessons are there for all with the patients and maturity to see.You can best get started after an early morning smoke and a cup of strong coffee. Pay attention to the open spaces and hidden details within everyday life. The full agenda is there and much closer then we think.